FAU vs Virginia Tech Odds, Pick for Sunday
Pictured: Nicholas Boyd. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
FAU vs Virginia Tech Odds, Pick
Two stellar coaches will lead their teams into the finale of the ESPN Events Invitational. FAU and Virginia Tech had distinctly different finishes to their seasons in the spring. Now, both have the opportunity to boost their confidence by winning a MTE in early November.
So, let's dig into the matchup and make a pick and prediction for FAU vs. Virginia Tech.
A shocking home loss to Bryant hasn't deterred Dusty May's FAU Owls. Florida Atlantic quickly rebounded, defeating an improved Butler roster and a tough Texas A&M team in back-to-back days. Texas A&M has been known for its defensive intensity under Buzz Williams, making FAU's 96-point output even more impressive. The Aggies hadn't allowed an opponent to tally more than 66 points prior to the start of the ESPN Events Invitational.
Typically, a team playing its third game in four days may try to play with slower pace and conserve energy. However, FAU's depth may allow it to maintain its preferred up-tempo pace. May can comfortably play a rotation of eight players, and can even stretch his bench to play nine of 10 guys if needed. Virginia Tech has a similarly deep bench, and both teams have the benefit of a full day of rest prior to Sunday's meeting.
Johnell Davis had been waiting to catch fire from long range all season and finally did so against Texas A&M. His experience is valuable to FAU, and he leads a veteran team that is unafraid to play in major spots like this. The Owls return eight players who tallied 15 or more minutes of playing time per game from their Final Four team last season. If anything, those eight players seem to play better in big spots.
Vlad Goldin, the 7-foot-1 junior center, has been FAU's best player thus far and has been designated the game MVP by KenPom in every FAU win this season, aside from Friday's win against Texas A&M. Davis' ability to heat up from 3-point range enhances FAU's potential upside, but Goldin provides a reliable mismatch in nearly every game.
Goldin is relatively nimble for his size, and couples his agility with a good pair of hands. His hands are integral to his game, allowing him to catch difficult entry passes and score from difficult angles. Virginia Tech's largest player measures 6-foot-10, so FAU will likely look to Goldin to provide a winning edge.
The Hokies, last season, surprisingly struggled in Mike Young's fourth season as head coach. However, if early results are any indication, Young may have his team back on track to reach the NCAA Tournament this spring.
Virginia Tech is led by an impressive shooter and all-around scorer in Sean Pedulla. Hunter Cattoor battled injury throughout much of last season, but may be the team's most explosive scorer when healthy.
Lynn Kidd will likely be tasked with trying to slow down Goldin. Kidd averaged a lowly 13 minutes per game last season and was a major question mark entering this season. The offseason departures of Justyn Mutts and Grant Basile left major holes for Young to fill on the interior.
Young's team ranked 139th in defensive efficiency even with Mutts and Basile, by far the worst result the Hokies have had under Young's leadership. It's fair to say there wasn't a ton of confidence the Hokies would be able to improve their defense by inserting a couple of young players who weren't able to earn minutes on a struggling team last year.
However, Kidd has far exceeded expectations. The Hokies only loss is to a decent South Carolina team by two points on a neutral floor. Kidd has managed to not only guard the opponent's best interior presence, but has also been able to provide a lift offensively.
Both teams have been kind to "over" bettors early this season. I expect that may have inflated this number slightly, which is why I lean to the under. I don't expect lack of depth to be the reason both teams may play slower, but I expect these veteran coaches will try to limit transition opportunities for the opposition.