Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-3) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-7)
We won again last night, our second consecutive win on college basketball. We were on the Aggies of Texas A&M on the road at Kentucky getting 6 points. This game came down to the absolute wire, and A&M led most of the second half, before falling behind late and losing 74-73. It was a thriller of a game like I thought it would be and the line was easily covered.
Today I will break down another matchup featuring a team that was formerly ranked in the top five this season, only to quickly fall from grace, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they play at Georgia Tech in an ACC battle.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to face the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech Wednesday night. The Irish started the season out red hot and found themselves towards the top of the national rankings. They dropped a couple of tough games to teams they shouldn’t have, and now they find themselves just outside of the top twenty-five at 13-3.
The Yellow Jackets find themselves in the middle of the pack of an absolutely loaded AAC this year. They have managed to keep their heads just above the Mendoza line at 8-7 on the season, and are looking to make a push as conference play has hit full stride. The Fighting Irish are -1-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 129.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from The Thrillerdome in Atlanta.
Notre Dame looked like national title contenders four weeks into the season. They spent the majority of the season’s first month ranked in the top ten and rose to as high as number five. Then they dropped a game to Michigan State, you can’t blame them for losing to what might be the best team in the nation. But after that, things got a little rough for the Irish. They dropped a tight game to a Ball State team that is probably better than most people think and then lost on the road to an average Indiana team.
Those two losses have dropped the Irish from the top five to completely out of the rankings. I am not sure that level of plummet was warranted, and I think Notre Dame still has a very solid basketball team this season.
The Irish will get plenty of opportunities for big wins in ACC play to get that ranking back. Notre Dame has games against North Carolina, Louisville, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Duke following this game. They can’t afford to slip up here and drop a very winnable game on the road, and if they run the table through that stretch of games, we will likely see them back in the top ten.
It will be very hard for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to compete in conference play this year. The league is just too loaded, and the Yellow Jackets just don’t have the roster to hang with so many good teams. That being said, they can beat anyone on any given night. That was shown last week when they upset a top fifteen ranked Miami Hurricane team at home.
That is really the only good win of the season for Tech, and their resume is littered with bad losses. They dropped games to Wofford, Grambling State, and Wright State earlier in the year. The schedule will offer lots of opportunities for Georgia Tech to pick up big wins, but it feels like this team is competing for an NIT berth and not really a trip to the big dance.
The Yellow Jackets are led by one of the more underrated players in the ACC, Josh Okogie. Okogie is averaging 20 points and 5 boards a game and is shooting 40% from beyond the arc. These two teams matched up just over a week ago and Okogie struggled, shooting just 5-14 from the field. They will need their leader to have a much better game this time around if they are going to protect their home court.
Like I said above, these two teams just played each other a little over a week ago. Notre Dame came out a little flat but then dominated in the second half and won 68-59 at home. The script is flipped now as the Yellow Jackets will get to play on their home floor. Georgia Tech is a much better team at home than they are on the road this year. In fact, all eight of their wins have been at home. That would lead you to believe they are going to really play well tonight.
But if you dig a little deeper the Jackets 8-3 home record really isn’t any good either. They have very bad and recent home losses to Wofford and Wright State. And outside of the Miami win last week, they don’t really have any good wins at home either. What that record really tells me is that the Yellow Jackets just suck on the road, and that they are just slightly better at home.
I don’t think this game will be all that close. The line opened up at Georgia Tech -1, and the whole world saw it was a bad number and jumped all over it. Now the line sits at Notre Dame -1, and I expect it to keep moving. I could see this number land in the -3 or -4 range.
If you like the Irish, which you should, you need to get on it now before this number gets out of hand. Give me the better than their record might tell you Notre Dame Fighting Irish -1 point tonight from Atlanta.