Monday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Virginia Tech-North Carolina, Marshall-Western Kentucky
College basketball never slows down once conference play gets going. We’re blessed with two ranked matchups Monday evening, including No. 9 Virginia Tech traveling to No. 13 North Carolina. Later on, Marshall travels to Western Kentucky in a critical Conference USA showdown.
Which sides presents more value in these two matchups? Let’s break them down.
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Betting Odds: Virginia Tech Hokies and North Carolina Tar Heels
- Spread: North Carolina -4.5
- Over/Under: 154.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
The Hokies (10-7 against the spread) are coming off four consecutive games without a cover, including a 22-point gashing at Virginia on Tuesday. On the flip side, the Tar Heels (10-6 ATS) snapped a two-game cover-less skid with a nine-point win over Miami on Saturday.
Buzz Williams’ floor spacing attack owns the third-highest Effective Field Goal percentage (59.2%), and 28% of Tech’s scoring comes from the perimeter. With North Carolina allowing 34.5% of its opponents’ offense in that vicinity, look for Virginia Tech’s sharpshooters to have success despite playing in a raucous environment.
UNC presents a size advantage at most positions, but the Hokies should have a mismatch via whichever Tar Heels forward goes head-to-head with Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The 6-foot-5 wing’s athleticism and quickness gives him an edge while attacking the lane and firing away from deep vs. a three-man frontcourt that struggles while switching on ball screens.
North Carolina’s length would presumably own the paint at the other end, yet Virginia Tech’s opponents are amassing just 42.7% of their scoring from inside the arc — the 20th-lowest rate in Division I. Its ball pressure is a major reason why, as they own the eighth-highest turnover rate.
Alexander-Walker and Justin Robinson will harass Tar Heels point guards Coby White and Seventh Woods all evening, especially since they both struggle with miscues.
THE PICK: Virginia Tech +4.5
Betting Odds: Marshall Thundering Herd at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
- Spread: Western Kentucky -5
- Over/Under: 160.5
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
The Hilltoppers (10-8 ATS) haven’t notched a cover since they lost straight up on Jan. 12 — a one-point defeat against the Thundering Herd (7-11 ATS). In that affair, Rick Stansbury’s bunch blew a 15-point first-half cushion and fell in the final minute on Jannson Williams’ game-winning 3-pointer.
I think Western Kentucky will deliver a bounce-back performance, and it’ll start down low. The Hilltoppers are generating 54.9% of their offense from inside the perimeter while the Thundering Herd’s opponents are amassing 52.6% of their offense from two-point land — the 67th-highest percentage in the country.
Marshall’s small-ball lineup didn’t possess a big who could defend 6-foot-11 freshman Charles Bassey (14.1 ppg) in their lone meeting, as Stansbury’s unit ran 32% of its offense through the five-star big with an inside-out approach.
Plus, the Thundering Herd have struggled on the glass at both ends of the court, but their 10th-lowest defensive rebounding rate tops the list.
WKU should be able to control the pace as a result and stave off Marshall’s run-and-gun tempo. That’ll limit Thundering Herd guard Jon Elmore (20.2 ppg) in particular, as he’s far less lethal in halfcourt sets.
According to our Bet Labs data, the Hilltoppers are 16-16 (50.0%) ATS as a favorite in conference play, dating back to last season. Expect WKU to jump over the .500 mark after this one.
THE PICK: Western Kentucky -5