College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Duke vs. Virginia (Wednesday, February 23)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Kihei Clark (left) and Reece Beekman (right).
- Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils take on Tony Bennett's Virginia Cavaliers in ACC college basketball action tonight.
- Bennett and the Hoos have thrived in an underdog role in conference play.
- Check out our analyst’s full betting guide and pick for this matchup below.
Duke vs. Virginia Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Reece Beekman stunned the college basketball world with his game-winning 3 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 7.
Virginia went into Cameron as double-digit underdogs and won outright, launching itself back into the bubble conversation after a disappointing start to the season for Tony Bennett’s squad.
Virginia still desperately needs marquee wins to add to its résumé, while Duke is chasing its first regular-season conference title since 2010. The Blue Devils will surely want revenge on the road to avenge their loss at home just a couple of weeks ago.
So, as Duke visits John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on Wednesday night, both squads should be fully focused. These two teams have a history of games coming down to the wire. Six of the last eight games have been decided by one or two points as both programs have often found themselves near the top of the ACC and college basketball landscape.
Bennett’s stellar record as an underdog in league play can’t be ignored and the Cavaliers are undervalued despite the revenge angle for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils have played up and down to competition for large parts of their ACC schedule, with six league games decided by two possessions or fewer and another at Louisville that was tied until a late run by the Blue Devils.
Duke is at its best offensively when it’s able to do two things: grab offensive rebounds and run in transition.
If teams let the Blue Devils get second chance looks through their bigs on the inside, they’ll get easy baskets or wide-open 3s off of them. And if opponents let them run in transition, they have the athletes and ball-handlers to exploit any defense in the country.
Virginia is a great matchup against this Duke team because it does a stellar job of preventing second chances and preventing transition. The Cavaliers make teams execute in the half-court, and they did a stellar job taking away Paolo Banchero a few weeks ago.
Banchero had one shot attempt in the second half of that game because Virginia doubled him almost every time he caught the ball at the high post or on the elbow. Virginia’s effective doubles forced the ball out of Banchero’s hands, and it’s set up well to prevent Banchero from dominating the post from the exact areas he likes to receive it.
Virginia’s defense is outside the top 150 in the entire country based on quality of shots allowed if teams can generate transition before the pack-line can be properly set.
Much has been made about the lacking Virginia defense this season, and it’s true that the Cavaliers are considerably worse guarding the rim than in years past.
The Cavaliers are just 80th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom, but there’s reason to believe that is selling UVA a bit short. The defense is still 60th in ShotQuality half-court defense, 54th at protecting the rim and 68th at guarding post-ups.
Virginia blocks shots at the 15th best rate in the country. Kihei Clark and Beekman are, on paper, as good of a defensive backcourt duo as any in the entire country. The Cavaliers don’t give up many second-chance looks at all because they’re generally a passive defense that doesn’t want to run in transition or over-commit on shooters.
The Cavaliers rank 344th in transition frequency allowed. It’s very hard to run on them because they’re dead last in pace and don’t really commit for offensive rebounds at all. They also don’t turn it over in live ball situations because Clark is excellent at taking care of the ball. The whole offense starts with him.
Virginia doesn’t take many shots from beyond the arc unless they’re wide open, but Duke does have some defensive perimeter regression coming at some point. Teams have made nothing against the Blue Devils in the half-court despite them allowing plenty of unguarded looks.
The Cavaliers made just 2-of-11 in the first meeting at Duke, yet the majority were unguarded.
Duke vs. Virginia Betting Pick
Virginia closed as 11-point underdogs in Cameron Indoor, so you’d expect about a six-point adjustment with home court flipped for the rematch. But the Blue Devils have one team in the entire league who can really create matchup issues against them, and it’s Virginia.
I don’t read much into trends generally, but there is a reason that Bennett is 33-16 against the spread as an underdog in the ACC since 2013.
Since it truly became his program then, the Cavaliers are very difficult to get margin against because they don’t beat themselves, play at a really slow pace and force their style on their opponents.
Even with a more focused Duke team out for revenge, the Cavaliers are playing for their season, and a win would vault them right onto the bubble. I’ll back Bennett and the Cavaliers catching multiple possessions at home.
Pick: Virginia +4 or better
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