ACC Tournament Round 2 Previews: Pittsburgh vs. Georgia Tech
The second game of the day in Greensboro sees the Pittsburgh Panthers squaring off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in could potentially be an extremely high-stakes game for the Panthers.
Jeff Capel and company find themselves in the precarious situation of being squarely on the bubble with work to do in the ACC Tournament to really solidify their positioning. While a win on Wednesday afternoon doesn't do much for the Panthers' resume besides advance them to another round, a loss could be crippling in the eyes of the committee.
Meanwhile, Josh Pastner is hoping to put together another magical ACC tournament run, like the one in 2021, with his employment status in serious jeopardy.
The Panthers won both regular season matchups by an average of nearly 9.5 points and while they aren't an elite team defensively by any means (110th per KenPom), will Georgia Tech, who has been one of the worst offensive teams throughout the Power 5 this season (203rd), be able to take advantage? Probably not.
Add in the fact that not only is Pitt a top 30 offense themselves, they have a multitude of different guys capable of taking over on any given night between Blake Hinson (16.1 ppg), Jamarius Burton (15.6 ppg), Nelly Cummings (11.3 ppg), and Greg Elliot (10.5 ppg) and even Nike Sibande (8.3 ppg) off the bench who has really come on during ACC play.
Players to Watch:
Blake Hinson | Forward | Pittsburgh
Hinson, the Panthers' leading scorer this season, went for double figures in both games (13, 22) and poses a serious matchup problem for the Yellow Jackets with his ability to both consistently score in the paint and also stretch the defense (38.6% from three). As I mentioned earlier, Pitt has plenty of other guys they can rely on to put the ball in the bucket but when Hinson has his full arsenal working the Panthers are clearly at their best.
Miles Kelly | Guard/Wing | Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets looked destined for single digit wins before rattling off 6 wins over the course of the last 7 games including a victory yesterday over Florida State in the opening round of the ACC tourney. A huge reason for the turnaround was the improved play of Kelly, a 6'6 Sophomore, who has averaged 20.2 points per game over this stretch. Kelly has been absolutely bombing away from deep with double-digit three-point attempts in each of his last 5 games including an unbelievable 7-14 performance against Syracuse to go for a career high 30 points. Kelly is the kind of guy that can keep a team in any game if he gets red-hot from deep, which may be the only realistic path to a Georgia Tech victory today.
Best Bet(s): Pittsburgh -7 | Over 15.5 Points, Miles Kelly
As I mentioned before, Pitt won both games by margins of 8 and 11 and should be the more desperate of the two teams today with their NCAA Tournament hopes riding on advancing in the ACC Tournament. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Panthers by 20+ in this one.
Miles Kelly is a safe bet to go over his point total for all of the reasons mentioned above. For a guy averaging over 10 attempts from three over his last 5 games, 15.5 points seems like a serious undervaluation. Even if the Yellow Jackets aren't competitive he will have the green light to let it fly.