Odds & Pick for Virginia vs. Florida State College Basketball: Seminoles Have Edge in ACC Heavyweight Tilt
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Rayquan Evans.
- Virginia travels to Florida State on Monday night in a matchup between the top two teams in the ACC.
- The Cavaliers are coming off a big win over UNC, while Florida State survived Wake Forest while coming back from a program pause.
- Who has the edge in this one? Pat McMahon breaks down the matchup below.
Virginia vs. Florida State Odds
|Virginia Odds||+1 (-105)|
|Florida State Odds||-1 (-115)|
|Time | TV||Monday, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN|
The top two teams in the ACC collide on Monday night in Tallahassee as Virginia takes on Florida State.
Major regular-season conference title implications are on the line in this showdown.
Virginia sits atop the current standings with an impressive 11-1 ACC record. It looked sharp against North Carolina on Saturday, defeating the Tar Heels, 60-48, in a game it controlled from the jump.
Florida State provides a more difficult task for the Cavaliers, however, as the Seminoles’ length and athleticism could really disrupt the Virginia offense.
Florida State enters this matchup with a 7-2 ACC record. The Seminoles just got back from a two-week team pause on Saturday when they hosted Wake Forest. They narrowly avoided a disaster against the Demon Deacons, rallying late to force overtime and eventually win, 92-85.
The Cavaliers present a tough challenge at home but also a great opportunity to add a top-10 win to their resume.
When Virginia has the ball
As is typical of most Tony Bennett-coached offenses, the Cavaliers play very slowly yet efficiently. Virginia ranks dead-last nationally in adjusted tempo, and 12th in offensive efficiency, per KenPom.
In order to maintain that type of efficiency while playing so deliberately, you need a savvy point guard who takes care of the basketball.
Bennett has that in Kihei Clark, a true floor general who’s averaging just fewer than five assists per game. While he has some limitations as a scorer due to his size, Clark does an outstanding job of getting his teammates involved and executing late in the shot clock to prevent his team from taking bad shots.
A major strength of this Virginia offense is its outside shooting.
All three of the Cavaliers’ leading scorers have been terrific from 3-point range this season. Forward Sam Hauser (15.1 ppg) and center Jay Huff (13.4) are difficult matchups for any defense, as they can both score inside and out. Rice transfer Trey Murphy III (11.5 ppg) has emerged as a major threat on the wing, something that the Cavaliers were missing last season.
Thanks to this trio, Virginia is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation, hitting 39.9% of their attempts from the outside.
The Seminoles are down a bit defensively compared to last season, but are still very good. They rank 47th in defensive efficiency and allow fewer than 70 points per game.
What makes the Seminoles so tough to score on is their size and athleticism. Only one player in their rotation stands shorter than 6-foot-5 (6-foot-4 guard RayQuan Evans). Their size and length make it extremely difficult for opponents to score in the paint or execute their half-court sets.
Depth also plays a key role in the success of Leonard Hamilton’s defense. Hamilton will play as many as 12 players, with nine guys averaging double-digit minutes. No Florida State player averages more than 30 minutes per game.
The Seminoles also do a great of cleaning up the glass and eliminating second chance opportunities for their opponents. They rank in the top-40 in rebounding margin, grabbing six more boards per game than the opposition.
When Florida State has the ball
Despite losing two lottery picks from last season, the Seminoles’ offense has actually improved. Florida State ranks 15th in offensive efficiency, up from 32nd a year ago, per KenPom.
The combo of senior MJ Walker and freshman Scottie Barnes plays a major role in the Seminoles’ offensive success. Walker leads the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game, and has been lights out from 3-point range (44.4%) and the foul line (85.5%).
Barnes, a likely lottery pick in the 2021 draft, is essentially a point-forward for the Seminoles. He stands 6-foot-9, but is an excellent playmaker, averaging a team-best 4.2 assists per game.
He’s struggled with his outside shooting but is great at getting to the rim. Barnes hit the game-tying reverse layup against Wake Forest on Saturday with less than one second remaining to force overtime after an impressive coast-to-coast drive.
Florida State is an outstanding 3-point shooting team as well. In addition to Walker, Anthony Polite (51.4%) and Evans (47.4%) have been terrific from the outside all season.
The Seminoles also have a couple of quality inside scoring threats in RaiQuan Gray (11.1 ppg) and Balsa Koprivica (9.2). Gray is one of the strongest players in the ACC and is tough to contain in the post. He’s also a very skilled shooter and ball-handler, making him a matchup nightmare for most traditional forwards.
Elite defense is a staple of the Virginia program under Bennett. This year is no different, as his team ranks 11th nationally in defensive efficiency. It also ranks fourth in scoring defense, allowing just 58.8 points per game.
Virginia’s guards do a really good job of staying in front of their man. When they do get beat, they have a great safety net behind them in Huff. The 7-foot-1 center is an outstanding rim protector, ranking second in the ACC in blocks per game at 2.4.
Huff will play a huge factor on both ends in this game, but he must be careful to avoid foul trouble, an issue he’s dealt with often throughout his career.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I believe Virginia is the better team of the two and will eventually come away with the ACC regular-season crown. However, Florida State matches up well with the Cavaliers and I think this will be the Seminoles’ night.
Florida State’s length could really make things difficult for the Virginia offense. The Cavaliers lack guards who can beat their man off the dribble and get to the rim consistently. They could struggle to get clean looks all night.
It may not be pretty on the other end either, but the Seminoles have more scoring options in the backcourt than Virginia. Between Walker, Barnes, Polite, and Evans, they should be able to find enough offense on the perimeter to get the job done.
This line opened with Virginia as a 1-point favorite, but it quickly flipped in favor of the Seminoles. I agree with the early line movement and think Florida State is worth a play up to -3.
Pick: Florida State -1 (up to -3).