Indiana-Georgia Tech Free NIT Play

On March 14, 2017, in Free Picks, NCAAB, by Stephen

Georgia Tech plus 3 hosting Indiana

Back in November, Indiana was thought of as a possible Final Four contender after pulling off upsets of Kansas and North Carolina while Georgia Tech was considered a lower-rung ACC team.

Rewind four months later to now. Georgia Tech has far exceeded expectations nearly making the NCAA Tournament. Indiana still has Final Four hopes – but for the NIT not NCAA. Of course that’s disappointing for the Hoosiers. And it’s likely they don’t take this first-round NIT game as serious as Georgia Tech.

Indiana declined to host this game even though it had the opportunity being the higher seed. The company line for turning down playing this matchup at home was renovations to Assembly Hall. The real reason, though, could be apathy and lack of good crowd support with the students off for spring break.

The Hoosiers couldn’t overcome injuries down the stretch. They lost six of their last eight regular-season games and were eliminated by Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

So not only is Indiana in bad form, but I can’t see the Hoosiers caring much about this game. Another distraction are rumors coach Tom Crean is going to leave Indiana possibly for Missouri.

Georgia Tech will be motivated. Yellow Jackets’ first-year head coach, Josh Pastner, believes it’s a tremendous opportunity not only to play in the postseason, but to defeat a name school with a great basketball tradition. It’s a home game for the Yellow Jackets and it’s going to be on national television. Pastner is so psyched for this game he’s offered to pay for the tickets of any student wanting to attend.

As added motivation, the Yellow Jackets want to win so they could meet in-state rival Georgia in the second round if the Bulldogs should beat Belmont on Wednesday as expected. Georgia Tech may have played its most embarrassing home game of the season when it lost to Georgia, 60-43, on Dec. 20. The Yellow Jackets want revenge.

The motivation angle works for the Yellow Jackets here, but are they actually good enough to beat Indiana? I certainly believe so with the key being they are playing at McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Tech went 14-4 there against Division I opponents posting home victories against Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida State and Syracuse.

Georgia Tech achieved its success with the nation’s seventh most-efficient defense. The Yellow Jackets ranked 15th in defensive field goal percentage. They are led by 6-foot-10 junior center Ben Lammers, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He averages 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.

Indiana is far more offensively inclined. The Hoosiers need to shoot well to win. They had problems with Wisconsin, the last strong defensive club they faced scoring just 60 points against the Badgers. Keep in mind, too, this was very much a down year in the Big Ten.

The Yellow Jackets have been underrated all season. They’ve covered 12 of their last 16 games. They are a worthy underdog here.

(Note: I’m 7-2 on my last nine college basketball plays and have my Tournament Game of the Week going today.)


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