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NCAAM Basketball Pick for January 21st

Virginia Cavaliers (17-1) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-10)

The betting line information used for this article was taken from sportsbetting.ag at 7:45 AM PST on 1-21-18. Some odds may have changed.

We took a pretty bad beat last night when we backed the Oregon State Beavers at home against the Trojans of USC. The Beavers led by double digits in the second half and had a seven-point lead with just seven minutes to go. We were feeling pretty good backing a home underdog getting 2.5-points with a comfortable lead late in the game.

Then things took a turn for the worse as several phantom foul calls forced the Beavers to send their two best scorers to the bench. The Trojans capitalized on the short-handed lineup and took charge of the game, and eventually took the game74-67, covering the spread on the road.

I am not one to complain about the refs much, but this got pretty nasty down the stretch. Oregon State already had very limited options, and when they were forced to sit what little talent they had with foul trouble, they really didn’t have any efficient way to score the ball, and it cost them the game.

Even the road team USC announcers were left scratching their heads on some of the fake foul calls. What can you do, sometimes the calls go your way, sometimes they don’t.

Today we will shift focus to the ACC to break down the matchup between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

The number two team in the land will take their show on the road Sunday to play the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Cavaliers are 17-1 on the season, with the lone loss coming in a true road game against a very good West Virginia team that almost never losses on its home court. The Cavaliers have won nine straight games and sit alone atop the ACC standings at 6-0 in league play.

The Demon Deacons aren’t enjoying much success in ACC play as they are just 1-5 in what might be the best conference in the country this year. Wake Forest has lost six out of its last seven games entering play tonight. Virginia is -8.5-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 126.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:00 PM PST from LJVM Coliseum.

The Virginia Cavaliers may very well be the best team in the country this year. They own big wins against Rhode Island, North Carolina, Syracuse, and NC State. The Cavs are about to get tested for real as after this game they play a home game against Clemson and then travel to play at Cameron Indoor to play the Duke Blue Devils before them coming home to host the Louisville Cardinals.

The Cavaliers have managed to build a two-game lead over both Duke and North Carolina in ACC play, and if they can knock off Duke and Louisville next week, they will all but have the ACC regular season title wrapped up. That is a mighty big IF but the Cavaliers are certainly in the driver’s seat as of now.

Virginia plays a brand of basketball that is very hard to match up against. They swarm on defense and hold teams to a borderline absurd 52 points a game, that is tops in the nation. Nobody has been able to figure out how to score on Tony Bennett’s defense this year, and it is a big reason why they are winning at such a high rate. But this team isn’t all about the D as they are pretty prolific on offense as well.

Virginia never turns the ball over. At just nine turnovers a game, they are second in the country at protecting the ball. They are also top twenty in the country shooting from the charity stripe at 77% and shoot close to 40% from behind the arc.

A team that gives up no points, takes care of the ball at an elite level, makes all of its free throws, and can fill it up from deep. If that isn’t a recipe for a national title I am not sure what is. They will need to stay on their A game if they don’t want to let a very winnable league road game slip past them tonight.

There is no such thing as easy road games in the ACC. Even the lower level teams like Wake Forest are going to put up a fight at home. We saw this when Wake knocked off a solid Syracuse team on their home court on Jan. 3rd. The Demon Deacons have, however, struggled badly this season against some very mediocre competition. They have losses to Georgia Southern, Liberty, Drake, and Boston College. I think they are in for a rude awakening tonight at home.

This is a mismatch with a capital M. The Demon Deacons turn the ball over a lot, and that has been against a schedule littered with bad teams. Against the Cavaliers tonight I expect at least twenty turnovers. This team is just too good on the defensive end of the court to let a game like this slip past them. Sometimes shooting can take a night off, but elite defensive is always elite, and the Demon Deacons are going to have to hit a lot of contested shots to hang with the Cavs tonight.

This line opened at Virginia -9.5, and as the sharps almost always do, they snatched up the home underdog points and moved this number to Virginia -8.5. Road games in conference play are always tougher than they should be and as a rule, the sharps will always take the points. But I am going to buck that trend tonight.

I don’t see how Wake Forest is going to score against this defense and they could hold them to fewer than fifty points. Virginia knows how competitive the ACC is this season and knows they can ill afford a half effort tonight and Tony Bennet is going to have them fired up and attacking. I am not sure this game is even going to be all that competitive, to be honest. Its hard to say a home team is going to get blown out on its own court, but I think that is what happens tonight.

Give me the Virginia Cavaliers -8.5-points tonight on the road.

The Bet: Virginia Cavaliers -8.5 points

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