Virginia vs. Pitt Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Tuesday, Jan. 3)

Virginia vs. Pitt Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Tuesday, Jan. 3) article feature image

Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Reece Beekman of the Virginia Cavaliers

  • Pitt is 3-0 in ACC play and now must face Virginia to keep its unbeaten streak alive.
  • Is it time for a reality check for the Panthers -- and for us to sell high on the team?
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks it all down and concludes with his best bet.

Virginia vs. Pitt Odds

Tuesday, Jan. 3
9 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Virginia Odds
-110o / -110u
Pitt Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Pittsburgh has been one of the biggest surprises in the ACC after a poor start to the non-conference season and low expectations coming into the year. The Panthers just took down rival Syracuse and nationally ranked North Carolina to move to 3-0 in ACC play, and now they'll host Virginia for a chance to pull another ranked win.

The Cavaliers recovered from their brief blip of two consecutive losses heading into the Christmas break in time to blow out both Albany and Georgia Tech. Virginia needed that time to try to get Reece Beekman healthier after he struggled through a nagging leg injury in the middle of December.

Virginia profiles poorly as a road favorite in the conference generally, but is this the time to sell high on Pittsburgh following its recent form?

Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia's offense really struggled throughout most of December. The Cavaliers were just 91st in offensive efficiency for the month, per Bart Torvik. They'll need reliable scoring from Beekman, who scored just 31 points in five games played in the month.

The offense is built primarily around shots coming from ball screens and cuts. They play at one of the slowest paces in the entire country, which can make it difficult for them to get margin. Virginia is a team you typically want to back as an underdog but should be skeptical of as a favorite. But in this matchup, they should be able to take advantage of some of the Panthers' defensive weaknesses.

The Cavaliers will be able to take away transition and offensive rebounds, two areas in which Pittsburgh has improved this season relative to the recent years of struggle under head coach Jeff Capel. Tony Bennett's team is as good as any at forcing its style on the opponent, and Pittsburgh's half-court offense still has question marks outside of Jamarius Burton's scoring ability off the dribble.

Virginia hasn't shot the ball well from the perimeter at all lately, so it is fair to wonder if the market was too high on the Cavs and their improvement compared to last season. But they're also going to shoot it better than 30%, as they did in December, from deep.

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Pitt Panthers

Synergy grades out the Pittsburgh defense as below average against both cutting and guarding shots that come off screens. The Panthers have improved defensively in the last month, but the only real reason for this has been poor opponent shooting against them.

Opponents made just 28% of shots from beyond the arc in December, and they've made just 29% for the season. Given the lack of ball pressure and the average shot quality allowed from the perimeter, defensive regression is coming for this Panthers team.

It's also fair to wonder if the Panthers will be able to continue to shoot at the rate they did in December from deep. If Pittsburgh makes 39% of its 3s, as it the Panthers have done during this winning run, then they're live to beat Virginia on Tuesday night.

But Pittsburgh will struggle to get offense at the rim, and the isolation game of Burton has a much more difficult matchup against the Virginia pack-line defense than he did against North Carolina's mediocre defensive unit.

Virginia vs. Pitt Betting Pick

Virginia started the season as high as you can get in the market after comfortably beating both Baylor and Illinois in the early non-conference. There was some expected regression and a couple losses in December, but now is the time to get back in on the Cavaliers.

The spot is good because you're getting a cheaper number to bet on them in this road game at Pittsburgh because the Panthers just played an incredible month of basketball and beat Carolina. Pittsburgh's offense may have been 11th in the country since December began, but that's built on unsustainable perimeter shooting.

It's time for a reality check for the Panthers and a sell-off at the top of their market. Facing a defense that will clog the middle and force them to shoot, Pittsburgh's offense will struggle. The defense has improved enough to keep them in this game, but Virginia's cutting actions and screens project to have success too.

I like Virginia at -5 or better to win this ACC matchup and end Pittsburgh's unbeaten start to the league. Once you get over five, it's difficult to trust the Cavaliers at their snail's pace.

Pick: Virginia -4.5 (-115) | Bet to -5

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