Busting Brackets

Duke vs. Georgia Tech: 2020-21 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Jan 8, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Moses Wright (5) is defended by Duke Blue Devils forward Matthew Hurt (21) and forward Javin DeLaurier (12) in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Moses Wright (5) is defended by Duke Blue Devils forward Matthew Hurt (21) and forward Javin DeLaurier (12) in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

With both teams firmly on the bubble and in need of a win, the Duke Blue Devils and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will clash on Tuesday.

TV schedule: Tuesday, March 2nd, 8:00 pm ET. ACCN

Arena: McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia

Coming off a disappointing setback that put them back outside the field, the Duke Blue Devils will look to pick up a huge win over a red-hot Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – with both in desperate need of a resume-boosting victory.

Once thought to be dead-in-the-water with a 7-8 overall record after a disastrous home loss to Notre Dame, the Blue Devils (11-9) won four-straight – including a significant win over Virginia – to put themselves back in the bubble conversation.  Duke’s aspirations, however, took a substantial hit on Saturday, with an overtime home loss to a Louisville squad.

The Blue Devils earned a career-high 37 points from Matthew Hurt in the 80-73 loss, as well as 13 points from Wendell Moore, just his second double-digit performance in the last five games.  Disappointingly for Duke, however, is that that was the extent of their offensive production.  Mark Williams and DJ Steward went a combined 6-21 from the field to finish with eight points apiece, while Jordan Goldwire, Jeremy Roach, and Jaemyn Brakefield combined for seven points.

Duke was by no means inefficient against Louisville, averaging 0.99 points per possession and shooting 59.5% on two-pointers – all the while outscoring the Cardinals at the charity stripe.  The Blue Devils could not shut Louisville down inside, however, allowing the Cardinals to take a whopping 54 shots inside the arc and outscore Duke in points in the paint, 44-30.

The Yellow Jackets (13-8), meanwhile, are in a better situation than Duke – but are just barely clutching onto a potential playoff spot.  Winners of four-straight – including a 16-point road routing over Virginia Tech – Josh Pastner’s crew are most recently coming off an 84-77 triumph against Syracuse.  With wins over Virginia Tech and Florida State, Georgia Tech is in a solid position to earn an at-large bid – but cannot afford a setback to Duke.

Like the Blue Devils, Georgia Tech saw a small assortment of players combine for the majority of their points.  Moses Wright recorded a monster double-double in a full 40 minutes of play, pouring in 31 points and hauling down 16 boards – nine offensive – while Jordan Usher (19) and Michael Devoe (18) both reached double-figures, as well.  Jose Alvarado – Georgia Tech’s second-leading scorer at 16.0 points on the season – scored just four in the win.

The Yellow Jackets were not necessarily efficient on the defensive end, allowing the Orange to average 1.05 points per possession and shoot 51.2% inside the perimeter – but Tech dominated Syracuse inside, largely thanks to Wright’s 14-25 2PT clip.  For the game, the Yellow Jackets shot 59.6% (28-47) on two-pointers, hauled down 16 offensive boards, dished out 26 assists on 33 made field goals, and decimated Syracuse in points in the paint, 54-24.

That last stat alone does not bode well for a Blue Devils team that is allowing teams to shoot 50.9% inside in ACC play, which ranks in the middle of the conference.  Again, Duke lost its game with Louisville in the paint – and will desperately need 7-0 freshman Mark Williams to shut down the smaller, 6-9 Moses Wright if the Blue Devils hope to win.

For Georgia Tech, however, defeating Duke means keeping the Blue Devils off the offensive glass.  Duke hauled down just seven against Louisville – but the last time these two met on January 26th, the Blue Devils brought down 11 and scored eight second-chance points.  That – and Duke’s 18-22 clip from the charity stripe, to Georgia Tech’s measly 4-5 – catapulted the Blue Devils to a critical 75-68 win.

Duke, however, saw Jalen Johnson score 18 points in that game – and now, Johnson is gone.  The Blue Devils will need to find an offensive replacement this time around against the Yellow Jackets, and cannot have just two players score double-digits again as they did against Louisville.

Georgia Tech’s recent dominance through ACC play – paired with their forceful defense that leads in the conference in forcing turnover per percentage at 22.9% – could potentially be enough to send Duke further down the ladder in bubble talks, however.  For the Yellow Jackets to win, however, they will need to find more offensive production, as well – just Alvarado and Wright tallied double-digits against Duke last time around.

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This one very much should come down to single-digits as well – but how Duke’s Williams responds to Wright will be the key area to watch.  If Wright can get Williams into quick foul trouble, then Tech’s big man has an opportunity to feast – but they must shut down Hurt inside and outside, as well.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 74 – Duke 70