Sometimes you just miss on a game. When you bet basketball every day, occasionally a game just plays out differently than you thought it would. That is what happened last night when we backed the TCU Horned Frogs on the road against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Both of these teams pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball, and I expected a low scoring grinder of a game that was tightly contested. Instead, the Red Raiders shot over 54% from the field as a team and nailed nine threes.
Texas Tech jumped out to an early lead and coasted to a double-digit victory. The win was a big one for the Red Raiders as they had lost three out of four coming into this one and badly needed to pick up another solid conference play victory. Jarrett Culver was the star of this one as the guard score eighteen points despite going 0-6 from the land of three. For TCU, there is no shame in losing on the road at Texas Tech, this team is a very good one. Things stay tough for the Horned Frogs though as they head to Baylor to play a surprisingly good Baylor Bears team on the road next. For today’s pick, we head to North Carolina to break down the game between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Virginia Cavaliers.
We have a blockbuster ACC matchup on our hands today as the North Carolina State Wolfpack host the Virginia Cavaliers in a game between two ranked teams. While the Cavs are ranked fourth in the most recent AP Poll, kenpom has them at number one so you could make the case that this is the best team in the country. On top of being an elite straight up team, Virginia is 16-3 against the number this season.
For the Wolfpack, they are putting together a solid campaign at 16-4 on the year and look to be solidly in the field of 68 at this point. This game is a classic contrast in styles. The Wolfpack love to get out and run and push a fast tempo, while the Cavilers love to slow things down and run a lot of half court sets. Whichever team is able to control the tempo tonight is likely to come out on top. The Cavaliers are -7-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 136 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from PNC Arena in Raleigh.
It is hard to knock what the Virginia Cavaliers have done this season. Last year they lost just two games and won the ACC title outright enroot to a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. And what if I told you this year’s team is better than that squad? Virginia has big resume-building wins over Wisconsin, Maryland, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. Their lone loss on the season was on the road to Duke, to a Blue Devils team that in my estimation, is the best team in the country. You cant do much better than that.
The Cavaliers are known for their elite defense under head coach Tony Bennet and this year’s team is currently ranked second in defensive efficiency per kenpom. But what if I told you that the offense was just as good? The Cavs are ranked second in offensive efficiency right now as well. That is a major upgrade over past Virginia teams that played great defense but struggled to score. Virginia is one of the better shooting teams in the country at 48% as a team, and they are the elite of the elite when it comes to passing the ball and not turning it over. Virginia ranks first in the country in turnovers and third in assists. Don’t let the Cavaliers slow pace fool you, this team can score and knows how to take care of the ball.
North Carolina State would love to put the feather in their cap that comes with knocking off a team of Virginia’s stature. While the Wolfpack look well on their way to an NCAA tournament birth, a win over Virginia could vault them into a top-four seed. While the Wolfpack has decent wins over Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Clemson already this year a win over Virginia would be enormous for this team. The Wolfpack have one of the higher-powered offenses in the ACC, they are averaging 85 points a game on the year, and the offensive unit is ranked 23rd on kenpom.
This game comes down to two things, tempo and strength on strength. Virginia likes to take things slow, and the Wolfpack like to run and gun. And we are seeing an elite scoring team playing an elite defense. Something is going to have to give in this one. Given the choice, I will take a great defense over a great offense any day. Great defenses never take a day off, they never have a bad shooting night.
I think Virginia locks down this NC State team and slows the pace to a crawl. The tempo will frustrate NC State into taking bad shots, and they are going to pay for it. This line opened up at NC State +9 points, and that was a bit too high. But as is almost always the case, the early morning bettors have taken the home underdog and pushed this line towards the Wolfpack. Where it sits right now at Virginia -7, I have no choice but to back the Cavaliers.
I just think this Virginia team is too good right now and think they win this one by double-digits. I hate to lay wood on the road in conference play, but this Virginia team has been disrespected in the betting market all season long, and that continues today. You don’t get to run up as good of a record against the spread as Virginia has without a lot of bad numbers and public doubt. I will take advantage of that tonight. Give me the Virginia Cavaliers laying -7-points tonight on the road in Raleigh!