Virginia vs. Virginia Tech College Basketball Odds & Pick: How to Bet this ACC Conference Rivalry
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Kihei Clark.
- Saturday evening features an in-state ACC conference rivalry matchup between the Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies.
- Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are known for their defense, but their offense combined with the Hokies' might push the total over.
- Pat McMahon thinks that will be the case and explains why below.
Virginia vs. Virginia Tech Odds
A pair of ACC heavyweights collide in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Saturday as Virginia Tech hosts Virginia.
The Cavaliers were largely written off as a national contender after getting blown out by Gonzaga in late December for their second loss of the season.
Since that game, they’ve been on a tear, winning seven straight and sitting alone atop the ACC standings with a perfect 7-0 record. Virginia has started to figure things out on offense and finds itself in the top 10 of the latest AP poll.
The 20th-ranked Hokies present the biggest road test of the season so far for Virginia.
Virginia Tech has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the season, grabbing the national spotlight with an early-season upset over Villanova.
The Hokies haven’t disappointed since and enter this contest at 12-3 overall, including a 6-2 record in ACC play. A victory over the Cavaliers would be a huge boost to their resume and would do wonders for their NCAA Tournament seeding come Selection Sunday.
When Virginia has the ball
Everyone knows how good the Cavaliers are defensively, but it may come as a surprise that they field a top-10 offense in terms of efficiency.
Point guard Kihei Clark is the perfect player to run Tony Bennett’s offense. He rarely commits turnovers and does a great job of spreading the ball around. He helps ensure his team doesn’t take bad shots, which is key with the Cavaliers playing at an incredibly slow pace.
Virginia ranks dead last (357th) in college basketball in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, but ranks fifth in points per possession (1.16).
One of the reasons Virginia’s offense is clicking is that it’s been lights out from 3-point range. The Cavaliers are shooting a scorching 39.6% from distance as a team.
Their three leading scorers — Sam Hauser (43.2%), Jay Huff (45.7%), and Trey Murphy III (49.2%) — are all above 40% on the year. Hauser (Marquette) and Murphy (Rice) both came in as transfers this season and give the Cavaliers significantly more scoring and shooting than they had last season.
The Hokies will combat the Virginia offense with a strong defense of their own.
Virginia Tech ranks 33rd in defensive efficiency and allows under 65 points per game.
We’ll see a strength-versus-strength matchup on the perimeter, as the Hokies defend the 3 very well. On the season, Virginia Tech opponents are just 31.8% from distance. The Hokies are coming off a great defensive performance at Notre Dame in which they held the Irish to just 3-of-12 shooting from 3 on their home court.
On the inside, I think the Hokies may struggle to contain Huff. They don’t have a lot of depth in the frontcourt, and Virginia will almost certainly look to attack Hokies center Keve Aluma early to try to get him in foul trouble.
Huff is a strong passer for his size, so playing inside-out through him could also work to create open looks for Hauser and Murphy on the wing.
When Virginia Tech has the ball
The Hokies are a very guard-oriented team, complemented inside by leading scorer Aluma.
Guard Tyrece Radford, who leads the team in minutes and is second in scoring, was suspended indefinitely on Monday and won’t play against Virginia. Thanks to their tremendous backcourt depth, Radford’s absence won’t impact the Hokies as negatively as it would most teams.
Sharpshooter Jalen Cone replaced Radford in the starting lineup on Wednesday at Notre Dame. Cone and Hunter Cattoor both saw increased minutes against the Irish, and Cattoor had a big night, hitting four 3s and scoring 13 points off the bench.
Both players, as well as Nahiem Alleyne, are terrific 3-point shooters and are all capable of going off on any given night. With over 42% of the team’s total shots coming from beyond the arc this season, the Hokies need to see some 3-pointers fall early to have a chance to knock off the Cavaliers.
It’s no secret Virginia can defend. It’s surprisingly outside of the top 10 in defensive efficiency but still boast an elite unit, ranking 16th nationally. The Cavaliers are so disciplined in the half-court and are really tough to score on inside or outside.
Aluma may have a tough time facing the 7-foot-1 Huff, one of the ACC’s top interior defenders and shot blockers. The bulk of the scoring will have to come from the backcourt, where luckily for Virginia Tech, the Hokies have a number of quality options.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With a pair of really good defenses and the snail’s pace played by Virginia, it makes sense to see such a low total. However, I think this total is a little too low.
For a total this low to stay under, neither team can have a good day shooting from the outside. Both of these squads can stroke it, with Virginia being the more consistent team.
However, the Hokies are also really strong from the outside with three players who are all capable of getting hot.
I know both defenses are tough, but with so many capable shooters on the court, we’re bound to see plenty triples go through the net.
The other reason to like the over is that the Cavaliers’ offense has come to life in ACC play.
Virginia is averaging over 72 points per game in conference play, including 77.5 in their last four games. After some early-season struggles, it’s clearly figured some things out and is finally getting the most out of Hauser and Murphy.
It’s always scary backing a Virginia over, but these teams have enough offense to get the job done.
Pick: Over 123.5 (up to 125).