Duke vs. Virginia Tech Betting Guide: The Matchup Advantage Is Real

Duke vs. Virginia Tech Betting Guide: The Matchup Advantage Is Real article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Duke forward Zion Williamson, Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker

#1 Duke vs. #4 Virginia Tech 2019 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Duke -7
  • Over/Under: 143.5
  • Location: Washington D.C.
  • Date: Friday, March 29
  • Time: 9:39 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

All eyes will be on the nation’s capital late Friday night when No. 1 overall seed Duke (-7) takes on Virginia Tech with an Elite Eight trip on the line. I personally think there is value on both the side and total in this game.

Let’s take a closer look at the game’s the most important matchup — as well as a few other ancillary factors. I will also explain how I came up with my line, which is extremely dependent on how much you think Zion Williamson and Justin Robinson are worth to the spread. I will then close with my pick for both the side and total.

Critical Matchup in Duke-Virginia Tech

Normally, after the No. 1 overall seed survives a scare in the second round like Duke just did last weekend, I’d look to back said team in the market where I might get some value in a bounce-back scenario.

However, that’s not the case here since this is such an ideal matchup for Virginia Tech. It’s no longer a secret that the key to beating Duke is to force them to shoot the 3 — by far its biggest weakness.

In fact, the Blue Devils entered the 2019 NCAA Tournament as the worst 3P shooting team in the entire field at 30.2% (see table below). And their current 30.7% clip from beyond the arc ranks 329th in the nation — tied with Georgia Tech.

We saw what UCF did in a game it honestly should’ve won outright. The Golden Knights ran a collapsed zone, daring Duke to shoot from the perimeter. And it worked like a charm, as the 13-point underdogs were a layup away from pulling off the stunner.

Well, Virginia Tech doesn’t need to do anything differently on the defensive end to get Duke to shoot 3s. It’s already Va Tech’s primary focus on defense.

The Hokies will go under every screen and aggressively help in order to prevent opponents from getting to the rim.

And Buzz Williams’ teams have executed this scheme flawlessly, forcing opponents to shoot more 3s than 2s this season. Only Monmouth has a higher defensive 3-point rate (3PA/FGA) than Virginia Tech’s 50.4%.

Their underlying metrics are so similar to a successful zone that KenPom shows Virginia Tech’s defensive fingerprint as “mostly zone.” When in reality, the Hokies run almost nothing but man (over 95%, per Synergy).

It’s a man defense that gets zone results. A “mone,” if you will. And a potential Monet against a Blue Devils team that simply can’t shoot.

Other Angles to Consider

You can’t talk about Virginia Tech without mentioning the return of guard Justin Robinson.

The four-year player is the catalyst of the offense, running the show with ease and finding VT’s plethora of shooters on the perimeter. His presence will be especially critical against an elite defender in Tre Jones.

There won’t be any intimidation factor, as the Hokies won’t fear the stage or their familiar conference foe. The more experienced Hokies will also enjoy the luxury of being able to play looser. All of the pressure will be on the inexperienced Blue Devils.

There were questions about the status of Virginia Tech sharp-shooter Ty Outlaw, but he has been cleared to play after passing a drug test.

If you’re itching to bet the over/under, I’d take a hard look at the under, which I have added myself. Va Tech is a snail that plays extremely slow, ranking 332nd in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. Duke does want to fly but Virginia Tech will grind it down when on offense and make Duke work deep into the shot clock on the other end. I think this ends with both teams in the high 60s.

What I Make This Line

Those who follow me in the app know I bet Virginia Tech earlier in the season as a small home dog when the Hokies won outright against a Zion-less Duke team. That line was simply off in my eyes and would be very different if played today with the same rosters.

I would personally now make VT a short 2.5-point home favorite if Zion and Robinson were both out again. This Duke team just isn’t elite without Zion in the mix.

Well, this game is now on a neutral court, so let’s remove 3.25 points for Virginia Tech’s home-court advantage. That gets us to Duke -0.75 for this neutral site game.

But Robinson is now back, who I have as worth +2 points to the spread. Zion is also back and I make the Duke superstar worth an unprecedented +6.5 points. That’s a net positive for Duke of 4.5 points, bringing my line for this Sweet 16 showdown to Duke -5.25.

And considering the matchup advantage the Hokies will enjoy as a result of their defensive scheme and a few other intangibles I mentioned, I’d shade it down toward Duke -4.5. I would personally bet Virginia Tech down to +6.

Look, Duke could shoot the lights out as it did against Virginia earlier this season. And if it does, Zion & Co. could roll. But I’ll gladly put my money up against that happening by backing an extremely solid Hokies squad.

THE PICKS: Virginia Tech +7, Under 143.5

Our Projected Odds: Duke vs. Virginia Tech

These ratings were built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Duke -8
  • Total: 142
  • Proj Score: Duke 75 | Virginia Tech 67
  • Win Probability: Duke 78.7% | Virginia Tech 21.3%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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