What the Public is Missing with the Clemson-Virginia Total
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The ACC semifinal matchup between No. 1 Virginia and No. 19 Clemson is expected to be a slugfest (7:00 p.m. ET). The total opened 118.5, the sixth-lowest total for a power conference matchup this season, and has been bet down to 117.
Virginia’s stifling defense shutdown Clemson, 61-36, back in January. The Cavaliers held the Tigers to 32% shooting for the game and conceded just 13 points in the second half. The game easily went under the closing total of 119.
Casual bettors like playing favorites and the over. In all postseason games since 2005, the over has received a majority of bets in 3,688 of 5,105 games (72.2%). In low total contests, the over attracts a higher percentage of the handle. In games with a total of 120 or less, the over received a majority of bets 81.2% of the time (220 out of 271 games).
Public bettors sees a low total and their natural instinct is to bet the over. What should they be doing with this UVA-Clemson matchup specifically? Let’s dive in to a few historical trends.
Here is the under record in all conference tournament games by closing total when both teams are playing on a back-to-back, since 2005:
This may seem counterintuitive to recreational gamblers, but the lower the total the better the under has performed. In games with a total of 130 or less, the under is 137-100-5 (58%) and in games with a line of 120 or fewer points, the under has gone 30-17 (64%).
Betting the under goes against a square’s nature. A low total game looks like an easy over, but it rarely is.
Defense continues to be UVA’s calling card. The Cavs have allowed 52.9 points per game (1st in the nation) and rank No. 1 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, while Clemson ranks 8th. I like a shootout as much as the next bettor, but points will be at a premium when two of the best defenses in the country take the floor tonight. That’s why I’m betting the under in Virginia-Clemson.
Picture above Virginia guard Nigel Johnson
Picture via Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports