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NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Preview: Georgetown vs. Utah

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My math model favors Utah by 4.5-points so the line is fair, but the technical analysis overwhelmingly favors the Utes. Utah is a profitable 21-6-2 ATS in its last 29 non-conference games, 35-16-3 ATS off a win, 41-20-1 ATS after covering the point spread and 51-25-3 ATS versus teams with a winning record, including 38-15-3 ATS versus .601 or greater opposition. The Utes have consistently outperformed the betting market as evidenced by their terrific 66-30-3 ATS (68.8%) record over their last 99 games.

Stiff competition hasn’t slowed down the Utes either as they are 28-11 ATS versus teams with a win percentage between .600 and .800 over the last three seasons. I also like the fact that Utah is 4-1 ATS in its last five neutral site games and will be the beneficiary of a friendly crowd in Portland, Oregon tonight. Meanwhile, Georgetown is a money-burning 5-13 ATS following one or more consecutive wins, 2-9 ATS after covering the spread and 6-15 ATS after winning four of its last five games.

Even more alarming is the fact that the Hoyas are a woeful 5-15-1 ATS in their last 21 games off a win, 2-11 ATS in their last thirteen games off an ATS win and 2-5 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games. It is also injudicious to trust Georgetown head coach John Thompson III, who is a 75% ATS losing proposition in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a 45.1% ATS losing proposition versus foes with a win percentage between .600 and .800.

In contrast, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak is 31-16 ATS as a favorite and 56-33 ATS versus teams with a winning record, including 36-16 ATS versus opponents owning a win percentage between .600 and .800.The best opponent for coach Krystkowiak is one that owns an offensive field goal percentage of 45.0% or greater and a defensive field goal percentage to 42.0% or less. Georgetown falls squarely within these parameters, which is significant in that Krystowiak is 27-9 ATS against these very opponents in his coaching career. Krystkowiak is also 17-9 ATS in all tournament games in his coaching career so he knows how to get the best out of his players when it matters most.

Georgetown has very little chance of having success against an outstanding Utah defense that is allowing 56.7 points per game (38.1% FG) to teams that would combine to average 69.8 points per game against mediocre defensive squads. The Utes are also limiting opponents to a mere 57.8 points per game on 39.0% shooting from the field on the road this season.

Overall, the Utes are 13.1 points per game better than average defensively this season, which is good enough to completely shutdown a pedestrian Georgetown attack that is 4.9 points per game better than average (71.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.2 points per game).

While Utah’s motion offense is nothing to write home about (4.3 points per game better than average), the Utes are very efficient at the offensive end of the floor, shooting 48.5% from the field and 40.4% from beyond the arc. The Utes’ offensive efficiency has continued in postseason play where they are shooting 46.9% from the floor and 42.6% from three-point territory. Utah should have some level of success against a Georgetown defense that is yielding 67.2 points per game on the road.

Let me address one more issue that has really ruffled my feathers. In the Hoyas’ last NCAA Tournament game against Eastern Washington, Georgetown’s Jabril Trawick willfully punched Tyler Harvey in the chest, causing Harvey to collapse to the floor. Was Trawick ejected? No. Was Trawick issued a technical? No. Was Trawick issued a foul? No. Rather, Harvey was called for traveling!

Surely, Georgetown head coach John Thompson II will discipline Trawick, right? Of course not. Accountability is all but lost in collegiate sports, and the Trawick incident is the latest example of how the inmates are running the asylum. And, as usual, the NCAA’s silence on this incident is deafening but, sadly, totally expected.

But, I digress. Georgetown’s 84-74 win over Eastern Washington was due, in part, to positive variance as the Hoyas shot 52.1% from the field. The Hoyas won’t be as fortunate against a suffocating Utah defense that held S.F. Austin’s explosive offense to just 50 points on 33.3% shooting from the field.

Finally, Utah is playing with a chip on its shoulder after being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. The Utes were deserving of a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, but the Committee showed their partiality once again by giving Utah a No. 5 seed. With Utah falling into a solid 27-3 ATS NCAA Tournament situation of mine, take the Utes in this NCAA Tournament clash and invest with confidence.

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