NCAAM Pick December 30, 2020 – Virginia Cavaliers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

As the snow starts to fall, we are starting to heat up on NCAA Men’s College Basketball bets! Yesterday we picked up an undefeated day to run our record to a sizzling hot 5-1 on the week. One of yesterday’s wins came when we backed the Clemson Tigers at home against the Florida State Seminoles.

I felt that the Tigers were being a bit underrated this season and that while I respect the job that Leonard Hamilton has done at Florida State, nearly all of the ‘Noles losses in the last several years have come on the road, so it was easy to expect them to struggle in hostile territory. The public did me a favor by moving the line two and a half points towards FSU, opening up a ton of value on Clemson. So, I backed Clemson at home, laying a point and a half, and expected a hard-fought home floor victory for the Tigers.

And that is exactly what happened. FSU actually led for much of the first half, taking a 34-29 lead into halftime. But the Tigers went on a run early in the second half and never looked back, coasting to a 77-67 win and cover. The win was already the 4th against the top-50 for Clemson, and they are quickly emerging as a real contender in the ACC.

For Florida State, the Seminoles wish they could have this one back, as they had the game all tied up with just under 8 minutes left to play and couldn’t sneak out of Littlejohn Coliseum with what would have been a nice feather in their cap and a big win on their resume.

After starting the season out by winning their first 4 games, including quality wins over Indiana, Florida, and Georgia Tech, the ‘Noles have now lost 2 out of their last 3 games. Is it too early to sound the alarm bells in Tallahassee? For today’s free daily betting pick, we will take a look at another team that hasn’t played well lately, as the Virginia Cavaliers play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Today’s Game

  • Virginia Cavaliers (4-2) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-4)
  • Joyce Center, Notre Dame
  • 3:00 PM PST
  • TV: ACCN

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and they aren’t catching any breaks tonight either, as they host the 23rd ranked Virginia Cavaliers in an ACC conference game. All four of Notre Dame’s losses this season have come to top-50 teams, and they do have a respectable win over the struggling, yet still supremely talented, Kentucky Wildcats on the resume. A win tonight at home over Virginia would be the best win of the year for the Irish.

For Virginia, the Cavaliers are coming off of a beating at the hands of the nation’s top team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and are hoping to get back on track tonight on the road. Tonight marks the first true road game of the season for Virginia, and Tony Bennet’s team will be looking for their first win over the top-100 this year, as the best win on their record right now is over 141st ranked Kent State.

Spread:

  • Virginia Cavaliers (-6.5)
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+6.5)
Money line:

  • Virginia Cavaliers (-295)
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+240)
Total Points:

  • Over 124 (-110)
  • Under 124 (-110)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-4)

When you look at who the Irish have played this season, it is hard to fault them too much for their inconsistent results. They have had to play 3 teams from the nation’s best league, the Big 10, and they have lost all 3 games. All of those games were competitive, though, and Notre Dame showed that they can hang with talented teams. Notre Dame opened up their league play schedule by hosting Duke in another game that was tightly contested, but again, the Irish came up short late in the game.

The issue with Notre Dame this season is a lack of depth. Late in games, they just don’t have the bodies to keep guys fresh, and it has cost them wins. But, despite the lack of depth, the starting five for Notre Dame is actually quite good.

The Irish have an underrated backcourt with one of the best guard combos in the ACC in Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin. Hubb and Goodwin are both scoring over 16 points a game, and they lead a Notre Dame offense that is one of the most efficient in the country. Notre Dame shoots 41% from 3-point land and 82% from the charity stripe and they can score on anybody.

Virginia Cavaliers (4-2)

I am willing to give Virginia a pass on the beat down they just took from Gonzaga. The Zags are just on another level right now, and after seeing Mark Few’s boys hammer Kansas, Iowa, and West Virginia, it clearly wasn’t poor play from Virginia that got them beaten up, it was just Gonzaga being that good. But I am going to fault them for their painfully ugly style of play this year.

The Cavs are elite on defense, as usual, but their offense has been really hard to watch. Bennet always plays a slow pace, but when the Cavaliers have been at their best, they have been able to make up for that slow pace by scoring the ball very efficiently. That hasn’t been the case this year, as Virginia’s offense is barely inside the top-50 right now, and they can go long stretches without scoring the basketball.

Who Do I Like?

This is a classic strength on strength matchup. Notre Dame scores as well as any team in the land, and Virginia can defend with the best. So, which team will be able to dictate the pace tonight and win this one?

I think that Notre Dame is going to have the Cavs on upset alert all night tonight. We have seen in the past that if Virginia can’t slow a team down on defense that they basically have no path to victory. If Tony Bennet needs his team to go basket for basket with the opposition to win a game, they are going to lose more often than not.

This line opened up with Virginia laying -4-points. That line was a sharp one, and kenpom didn’t have it far off, as they have the Cavs winning by five. But once again, the public has decided to back the road team, and they have moved this number two and a half points towards Virginia. Now that we can get Notre Dame as home dogs and pick up +6.5-points, I have no choice but to back the Irish.

The Bet

While I will stop just short of calling this an outright upset victory for Notre Dame tonight, I do think that this game is going to be highly competitive. Technically the Cavaliers are the defending national champions, as we didn’t crown a champ last season. I guess the public didn’t watch the mess of a team that Virginia had last season when they finished 234th in offensive efficiency. And I am certain that the public is still remembering the 2019 team and not paying attention to the fact that Virginia went into overtime with a bad Kent State team and lost to a San Francisco team that won’t sniff an at-large bid in March, in the non-conference.

No disrespect to Tony Bennet, he is a heck of a coach, but this Cavaliers team isn’t up to his normal standards. They are still going to win a bunch of games, and they are locks to be dancing in March, but Bennet has established a Final Four or bust standard at Virginia, and that level of success just isn’t going to happen this year. Expect a back-and-forth game where Virginia is going to have a hard time hanging with the Notre Dame scoring attack.

When it gets down to crunch time, this game is going to come down to whether or not Virginia is able to get some key stops. History tells us that they will and that they are going to sneak out of South Bend with a victory, but it won’t be easy. I’ll take the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tonight, getting +6.5 points, in what should be a barnburner. Let’s call it a 62-60 Virginia win, where Notre Dame comes up just short of the upset, but still finds a cover and cashes our ticket!

The Bet: Notre Dame Fighting Irish +6.5

My Pick
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +6.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL