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Virginia vs. Notre Dame College Basketball Odds & Picks: Back the Hoos in Defensive Clash

Virginia vs. Notre Dame College Basketball Odds & Picks: Back the Hoos in Defensive Clash article feature image

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Hauser.

  • An ACC battle featuring the Virginia Cavaliers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish takes place on Wednesday night.
  • The last time these two teams played in a game together, 99 total points were scored — including five total points in overtime.
  • Pat McMahon explains how this game should fit the Cavaliers well once again below.

Virginia vs. Notre Dame Odds

Virginia Odds -5.5 [BET NOW]
Notre Dame Odds +5.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -270 / +220 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 127.5 [BET NOW]
Time Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET
TV ACC Network
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today.

The 23rd-ranked Virginia Cavaliers head to South Bend, Indiana, to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Wednesday night.

It will be the ACC opener for the Cavaliers, who are looking to get back on track after losing to Gonzaga by 23 on Saturday. It was quite surprising to see Virginia get blown out that badly, but the Bulldogs are on another level right now and the Cavaliers should find a way to bounce back and right the ship rather quickly.

The Irish are off to a rough start this season and enter this game at 3-4 overall and 0-1 in ACC play. They’ve played a tough schedule thus far, and wins have been hard to come by as the Irish have struggled to close out tight games.

Notre Dame will have to find a way to limit its mistakes in order to come away with a victory against this well-coached, disciplined Virginia team.

The Matchup

When Virginia has the Ball

This is a classic Tony Bennett offense that likes to take its time. The Cavaliers rank 357th (dead last) in adjusted tempo. They have been quite efficient, though, ranking 49th in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

The key to running a slow-paced offense successfully is having a steady point guard a coach can trust to make smart decisions at the end of the shot clock. Bennett has that in junior Kihei Clark.

Clark is extremely efficient and reliable, and he rarely turns the ball over. He hasn’t gotten off to a great start this year, as his scoring and assist numbers are both down and he’s only converting 25% of his 3-point attempts. His dip in production is certainly a concern and something to monitor throughout ACC play.

Sam Hauser and Jay Huff form a nice one-two punch in the frontcourt. Hauser leads the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and is a terrific stretch four who can spread out the defense. Huff has steadily improved his offense throughout his four years at Virginia and has turned into a capable post scorer.

A major issue for Virginia offensively last season was the lack of scoring production on the wing. Rice transfer Trey Murphy III has helped tremendously in that area. He’s shooting the lights out, hitting 55.6% from 3-point range through six games.

The Irish haven’t been great defensively and currently rank 187th in defensive efficency. They’re allowing opponents to convert at a 40% clip from 3, one of the worst marks in the nation.

Notre Dame likes to mix it up between man-to-man defense and a 2-3 zone. It usually brings out the zone against bigger and more athletic teams that can give it trouble in one-on-one matchups, and Virginia fits that billing. If the Irish do show some zone, they’ll have to key in on Murphy and Hauser to prevent them from getting hot from the outside.

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When Notre Dame has the Ball

The offense hasn’t been the cause for Notre Dame’s struggles, as the Irish rank 26th nationally in offensive efficiency.

The Irish are very heavily reliant on guards Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin. The duo combines to average 32.5 points and has taken 45.8% of the team’s shots this season.

Hubb has attempted more than 25% of the Irish’s total shots, a very high number for a point guard. If either one of these players is having an off night, it will be difficult for the Irish to pull out a win over ACC opponents.

Like Virginia, Notre Dame is playing at a very slow pace the season. The Irish rank 293rd in adjusted tempo. Head coach Mike Brey especially likes to slow it down in the second half when the Irish have the lead. However, that strategy backfired in their loss to Ohio State and their narrow victory over Kentucky, when the Irish scored just 16 second-half points.

Brey might want to stray away from that strategy in this game if the Irish get out to a lead, as it can be very difficult to get a good shot off late in the clock against the Cavaliers’ stout defense.

As usual, Virginia’s defense is one of the best in the nation. The Cavaliers rank 11th in defensive efficiency and are holding opponents to just 60.1 points per game. The Cavaliers are so tough and disciplined in the half-court and make it very difficult for the opposition to execute their stuff.

Virginia ran into the buzzsaw that is Gonzaga’s offense on Saturday and surrendered 98 points, a feat that only a historically great offense can accomplish against the Cavaliers. That performance has skewed the Cavaliers’ overall defensive numbers down a bit, as only one other Virginia opponent has topped 60 points thus far.

One area of concern for Virginia heading into this matchup is defending Notre Dame from the 3-point line. The Irish have been hot from distance, ranking 14th in 3-point percentage (40.1%), and have a number of capable shooters the defense has to be aware of at all times.

Virginia is uncharacteristically below average in 3-point defense this season and is allowing opponents to shoot 35.8% from distance.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The Irish typically play and shoot it much better at home, but they always have a tough time against the Cavaliers. Since joining the ACC in the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame is just 1-9 against Virginia, including an 0-4 record at home.

Bennett’s teams have consistently found ways to take the Irish’s key players out of rhythm. If they are successful in doing so tonight, the Irish will be in big trouble as they rely so heavily on the production from Hubb and Goodwin. I think the Cavaliers will be able to really disrupt the Irish offense and cruise to victory.

I also see value in the under due to the incredibly slow pace from both sides. Recent history points to the under as well, as last year’s meeting between the two teams ended in just 99 total points scored despite the game going into overtime.

I think we’re in for a defensive slugfest, the type of game that suits the Cavaliers.

Pick: Virginia -5.5 and Under 127.5.

[Bet Virginia and the under at FanDuel completely risk-free up to $1,000]

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