College Basketball Odds & Pick: Value on Virginia Tech Against Louisville (Dec. 6)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrece Radford.
- Louisville and Virginia Tech are efficient at both ends and play at a slow pace, so all indications point to a close game when these teams meet Wednesday.
- With sole possession of first place in the ACC on the line, which team has the edge in this matchup?
- Pat McMahon breaks down where the betting value lies and shares his pick below.
Virginia Tech vs. Louisville Odds
|Virginia Tech Odds||+4.5|
|Time | TV||Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. ET||ACC Network|
Louisville and Virginia Tech meet on Wednesday night in the KFC Yum! Center with sole possession of first place in the ACC on the line.
The Cardinals (7-1, 2-0 ACC) have done a great job of getting their transfers and young players to jell early on in the season. They took care of business in road wins over Pittsburgh and Boston College, but face a much taller task against the ranked Hokies in their ACC home opener.
Virginia Tech (8-1, 2-0 ACC), has been one of the most pleasant surprises in college basketball and looks capable of competing for the regular-season conference crown. The Hokies lost star wing Landers Nolley (transferred to Memphis) and were picked just 11th in the preseason ACC media poll. They quickly changed their national perception with an early-season win over Villanova and haven’t looked back.
Like Louisville, the Hokies have benefited from bringing in quality transfers. They also boast a ton of depth in the backcourt and look the part of an ACC contender early on. They match up well with the Cardinals and certainly won’t shy away from this opportunity for a huge win on the road.
When Louisville has the ball
The Cardinals’ offense starts and ends with Carlik Jones. The Radford grad transfer has been a perfect addition to the roster and leads the team in both scoring (16.4) and assists (5.1) per game.
Jones missed the Wisconsin game, and the Cardinals were blasted in an 85-48 loss. Jones’ offensive production was sorely missed, as Louisville shot just 36% from the floor and only had eight assists.
Sophomore guard David Johnson is also a very important part of the offense and is playing really good ball in his second season. Despite giving up some of the ball-handling duties to Jones, he’s still posting 4.0 assists per game.
Johnson’s also dramatically improved his outside shooting from last, and both he (45.2%) and Jones (40%) are lighting it up from beyond the arc. The rest of the Cardinals have struggled from 3-point range and collectively bring the team average down to 33.8%.
Samuel Williamson is a versatile scorer who can get it done on the wing or from inside. He’s averaging 10.0 points per game on 47% shooting.
Senior forward/center Malik Williams has been out all year with a foot injury and won’t likely return until February, and his offensive is sorely missed in the post.
Virginia Tech has been strong defensively, and currently rank 46th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They’re giving up only 64.2 points per game and are holding opponents to 44.2% from the field.
Wofford transfer Keve Aluma has been a huge help defensively and is the team leader in both rebounds and blocks.
The Hokies’ wealth of options in the backcourt allow them to stay fresh and apply constant pressure to opposing guards for a full 40 minutes. Look for them to really lean on this strategy against the Cardinals and rotate several defenders on Jones and Johnson over the course of the game in an attempt to wear them down.
When Virginia Tech has the ball
The Hokies play at a snail’s pace offensively (303rd in adjusted tempo) but have been quite efficient. They’re ranked 35th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and are scoring 75.6 points per game without a ton of possessions.
The Hokies attempt and make a lot of 3-pointers. Of their 508 total shots taken this season, 219 of them (43%) have been from beyond the arc, and they’re converting at 36.5% from distance.
This type of reliance on the deep ball can cause some huge variances in offensive performance, but the amount of guys that can make 3s helps to mitigate their potential variance. Eight Virginia Tech players have attempted more than 10 3-pointers on the season, and all but one of them are making above 30%. Jalen Cone, Nahiem Alleyne and Hunter Cattoor take the most shots from downtown, and the trio is a scorching 40.7% combined on the year.
Kansas State transfer Cartier Diarra is very talented and was one of the most sought-after transfers this offseason. Unfortunately for the Hokies, Diarra decided to opt out of the remainder of the season before the Clemson game. They haven’t missed a beat without him, however, in large part to their backcourt depth.
Tyrece Radford is the only player on the team averaging more than 30 minutes per game, and the Hokies have four other guards that play between 17 and 26 minutes per contest. Virginia Tech has won all four of its games since Diarra’s departure, including both of their ACC victories.
The Hokies’ offense is very guard-oriented, but they’ve found a gem on the inside in Aluma. He’s averaging a team-high 16.0 points per game on 54% shooting from the floor. He was huge in the Hokies’ 80-78 win over Miami last week, erupting for a season-high 26 points. He’s a post scorer first, but can also step out and hit 3s, creating a lot of matchup issues against opposing centers.
Defense is the strength of this Louisville team, and it ranks in the top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Jones and Johnson are very strong on this end of the floor as well and make life difficult for opposing guards. The Cardinals are surrendering just 61.8 points per game and have limited opponents to 31.8% 3-point shooting.
Louisville will attempt to slow down Aluma by throwing several different defenders at him. Williamson, Jae’Lyn Withers, Quinn Slazinski and JJ Traynor all have the size to match up with Aluma and will each likely get a shot at guarding him.
Betting Analysis & Pick
You won’t feel too comfortable backing the Hokies on the road against a premier program like Louisville, but I think it’s the right play.
Both teams are efficient at both ends and play at a slow pace, so all indications point to a close, low-scoring affair. In this type of game, I like to back the team with more scoring options and a deeper bench.
Louisville is not equipped to win if Jones or Johnson has an off night, but the Hokies are much more able to handle a bad night from their top scorers. Look for Mike Young to use his stable of guards to apply maximum pressure to Louisville’s dynamic duo and make it a tough night for them.
On the flip side, there are plenty of candidates on the Hokies roster to hit enough big shots to keep it close or grab the win outright.
Pick: Virginia Tech +4 (down to +3).