(4) Georgetown v. (13) Eastern Washington
Time: 9:57 PM ET
Spread: GEO -7.5
M/L: GEO -400; EAS +300
Betting odds c/o Bovada
Georgetown is back at it this March, a storied program in need of redemption. Owners of a 21-6 record and a 12-6 record in the Big East, the Hoyas will face No. 13 seeded Eastern Washington in second round action of the South Region on Thursday evening. Early college basketball betting lines at Bovada showed the Hoyas as 7.5 point favorites in the game with the over/under set at 146. It will air on TruTV at 10 PM EDT.
Georgetown really doesn’t boast an impressive array of numbers, but there is a lot to be said for program strength and consistency this time of season, and most particularly so in early round matchups. Georgetown closed the season in relatively strong fashion, too, winning three of its final four, notching an impressive 60-54 win over then-No. 21 Butler on Mar 3. In that game, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 16 points on just nine field goal attempts, as he knocked down a pair of triples and grabbed seven rebounds. It was enough to edge out Butler in a low scoring affair that featured a total of just 114 points. The Hoyas held Butler to just 35.3 percent shooting and won the game despite being negative-19 (!) on the glass. Georgetown has had its share of struggles rebounding the basketball this season, too, ranking just 133rd among D-1 squads with 35.1 rebounds per game.
Smith-Rivera is the leading scorer for G-Town with 16.2 points per game in 34 minutes a night, while also dishing 3.1 assists and grabbing 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s a good shooter (39.5 percent three, 87 percent free throw) and is the lynchpin to the Hoyas making a run in this tournament. The 6’3” junior guard had a most impressive game in the 60-55 win over Creighton on Mar 12, as he scored 25 points and hit four threes in the game. Even more crazy than that was his 29 point game against St. John’s on Feb 28 when he dialed up seven triples out of 14 attempts. His shooting could easily reverse a game, or in this case, allow Georgetown to prevail as the heady favorite it is.
It should be interesting to see how 6’10” 350 pound senior center Joshua Smith fares. He’s struggled (obviously) with conditioning his entire NCAA career and is accordingly limited to playing about half a game. Even so, he’s played pretty darn well while doing so. Smith is good for 11.1 points per game and 5.9 rebounds while shooting an outstanding 62.6 percent from the floor, and a passable 64 percent from the charity stripe. He’s obviously world’s outclassed by the top big men in this tournament like Jahlil Okafor of Duke and Karl Anthony Towns of Kentucky, but what he isn’t is small. Smith gives the Hoyas one (insanely) large body that will help clog the paint when teams try to shuffle it inside. He’s not a great shot blocker because he can’t leap much at all, but there’s something to be said for having a big body who can remain vertical to contest shots.
Eastern Washington finished the regular season 26-8 with a 14-4 record in Big Sky play, winning the conference tournament over the Montana Grizzlies 69-65 to earn an NCAA berth. It’s a very high scoring team paced by two talented scorers in 6’4” guard Tyler Harvey and 6’8” forward Venky Jois. Harvey posts 22.9 points per game while knocking down 42.8 percent of his threes and Jois contributes another 16.6 points per game. The disheartening thing for Eagles fans is that Georgetown’s defense is most certainly enough to stifle this high scoring squad. Beyond that, the Eagles really are a live and die by the three type of team, and though it worked well for it in the Big Sky Conference, this is the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles are 7.5 point underdogs and could swing a major upset if its shooters catch fire, though. The team shoots 40.3 percent from three and has five major players shooting 37 percent or better from behind the arc. That’s not necessarily going to guarantee any kind of upset, but it stands to reason that the formula is certainly there. If there’s a 13 over 4 upset in this year’s tournament, this is the game to expect it from. While Georgetown can make a deep run on the strength of Smith-Rivera’s scoring talents and its strong team defense, flame throwing underdog teams are always worth keeping an eye on.