Notre Dame vs. Georgia
CBE Championship Final Round
Spread: ND -3.5
Moneyline: ND -160, GA +140
Tip off: 4:45 PM EST
(Betting Odds taken from Bodog)
Last year, many expected Notre Dame to fall off after losing Luke Harangody to the NBA. He scored over 2,500 points at Notre Dame, but coach Mike Brey is known for getting the most out of his guys offensively, and Notre Dame remained relevant to say the last, making it out of the first round in March and finishing with a 27-7 record. Their 71-57 loss to Florida State in the second roud did sting, but after a loss like Harangody, many did not expect that much from the Irish.
Harangody attempted 40% of Notre Dame’s shots during his senior season, but Ben Hansbrough proved to be an adequate slack-picker-upper, to say the least. Hansbrough hit 44% from behind the arc, but he is much more than just a spot up shooter now, at this point in his evolution as a player. He converted 52% of his two point attempts last season and shot 184 free throws last year, as well, showing he can get to the line and get to the hole. He won a major conference Player of the Year award, just as his older brother did, and has proven he can make the jump to being an elite level scorer, rather than just a fringe role player type.
It is defensively that Notre Dame has to step it up. Giving up 71 to Florida State isn’t horrible becuase Florida State is a good offensive team, but it doesn’t scream good defense either. They were the 10th best defense in the Big East and opponents shot 38% from threes against Notre Dame last year, which can’t always be attributed to just poor rotations (though that undoubtedly DID play a role). They held opponents to .99 points per possession and that isn’t something to hang one’s hat on to say the least. With Brey, however, sometimes good defense isn’t essential towards winning, though it is hard to imagine a team like Notre Dame ultimately having great success in March without playing some type of passable defense.
Georgia lost in an opening round match against Washington in the NCAA tournament. It proved ot be a redeeming game for the Bulldogs, who were actually 5 point underdogs if memory serves me (at least they were at the time I laid down my moneyline bet on them to win). Trey Thompkins turned in one of the best college performances of his career, giong 11 of 14 from the floor, and 2 of 2 from three, to score 26 points while playing almost the entire game.
Gerald Robinson scored 12 in that loss and thus far this season he is tied for the Bulldogs’ leading scorer at 12.5 points per game. The 6’1″ senior guard averaged 12.2 last season, but had a great two years at Tennessee State before transferring. He is a good distributor (4.0 assists per game over both of the last two seasons) and is going to have to step it up to the next level in order for this Georgia team to succeed. He started last year but his free throw rate dropped off signficantly against the better defenders in the SEC. Look for Robinson to try to make this his team this year, and even try to sneak into the second round of the NBA Draft in 2012.
Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been impressive, as well. The 6’4″ guard from near by Greenville, Georgia is putting up 12.5 a game and has scored in double figures in all four Bulldogs’ games. He had 15 opening night against Wofford, and went 5 of 12 from the floor that night, while missing 5 threes of the 7 misses. He has hit 7 of 23 from behind the arc so far this season, and is only shooting 40% from the floor so far this season (bolstered by a 5 of 8 shooting night against Bowling Green).
Thompson’s entry to the NBA and Price’s graduation left holes in this Georgia team, but they aren’t that bad, still. Dustin Ware is going to have to do more than score 6.5 points per game and shoot far higher than 33.3% from the floor if Georgia is going to get anyhere, though. Robinson is only partly doing his job, but Ware isn’t doing it at all so far and if he doesn’t step it up Georgia will have trouble even ATS this year.
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