Virginia Cavaliers (13-0) (10-3 ATS) @ Boston College Eagles (9-3) (5-7 ATS)
NCAA Basketball: Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 at 9:00 pm ET (Conte Forum)
Spread: Virginia -11.5
ACC basketball is turning up a few more notches. This will be the first and only time these teams square off this season. #1 in the Coaches poll Virginia will try and keep up the momentum to an undefeated season. Boston College will shoot for the upset.
The bitter upset from UMBC in the March Madness tournament has only made for sweeter Virginia Cavaliers revenge, so far. “On guard” would be the perfect mantra for the Cavaliers’s undefeated season as they make a case for being the best defensive squad in the 2018-19 season. They allow an outstanding lowly 51.5 points per game (ranked 1st nationally) and contain opponents to a -22.5 scoring margin (5th). Florida State got a taste of the Cavalier defense in Virginia’s last out and were held to a season low 52 points. No one from the Seminoles scored over 9 points and Virginia forced 15 turnovers. Virginia’s defense is all over the place but the eye popping stats are opponent 3-point field goal percentage (24.8), good for 2nd in college and, opponent assists per game (8.0)–tops in the NCAA.
Offensively, the ‘Cavs commit few turnovers (8.8/gm), and are ranked 24th in shooting efficiency (1.171). Kyle Guy is UVA’s best player and proved his value opening the year with 21 points against FSU by shooting 5 of 6 from 3-point–his best mark thus far. Guy’s 2nd in the ACC in 3 point field goals made per game (3.15). The other player who broke out was Alabama-transfer Braxton Key (7.31 ppg) who like Guy, went 7-11 for a season high 20 points. Key is “key” as UVA doesn’t get much scoring outside of Guy, De’Andre Hunter (13.85 ppg) and Ty Jerome (13.54). There aren’t too many things to “woo” about for this Wahoo offense. They play at a slower pace than most teams, but playing at their pace is what rightly suits them since they’re good at it. They’re 7th nationally in offensive efficiency (1.161). The Wahoos schedule was a bit subpar until they met a quality opponent in Florida State. UVA’s strength of schedule in terms of efficiency ranks 199th in the nation according to Kenpom.com. It’s something to keep note of as the going gets tough in the more than rough ACC.
The Patriots aren’t the only team in Boston looking to make a stand on its home turf this week. The Eagles will also try and fend off their visiting opponent, Virginia. Boston College didn’t end last year or start this year well. They lost their last two, the first at home to Hartford who spoiled the “Boston pops” New Year’s Eve fireworks 78-79, and the second at Virginia Tech in their ACC opener 66-77. Before the defeats, the Eagles were winning games and had a decent non-conference showing. The Eagles have rode their success on the wings of Ky Bowman (20.38 points/gm). They’ve also had contributions from Wynston Tabbs (14.58), Jordan Chatman (13.10), and Nik Popovich (13.45). Bowman is likely their best all around player though. He’s 2nd on the team in rebounds (7.77), and leads the team in assists (3.62) and steals (1.62).
BC is also led in rebounds by Steffon Mitchell (8.45) and have five all together who average more than 4 rebounds a game. On the defensive end, Popovich leads the team in blocks 1.18. Their strongest area is defensive rebounds where they rank 20th (27.3) so they tend to give up few second chances. Next is opponent effective field goal percentage (46.2) and they rank 40th nationally there. But overall, this team is average at most in every other category, offensively and defensively. What’s telling is how they stack up. Kenpom.com ranks them 107th in terms of efficiency. Just above them at 106 is 4-11 Illinois! Kenpom goes further in ranking them 288th as far as strength of schedule goes. This serves justice as they’ve only faced one top 25 team. That was #9 Virginia Tech. Against VT, Bowman is what kept things interesting. He ended with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists including two 3-pointers. The team had a good showing in the first half of that game. But they lost the 2nd half battle and had no help away from their starters with the bench only scoring 2 points.
Virginia is 34-16-1 ATS in their last 51 overall
7-1 SU in its last 8 meetings with Boston College
14-3 ATS in their last 17 road games
Boston College is 0-5 ATS in their last five home games
The UNDER is 3-0-1 in Boston College’s last four games against teams with winning records
Free ESPN Scores Virginia Cavaliers vs. Boston College Golden Eagles
When picking a team, it’s important to find any outliers that could help differentiate between matchups. Virginia doesn’t have much offense outside of their primary playmakers I mentioned. The same goes for Boston College. The strength of schedule matches up although I’ll give the edge to Virginia for blowing out teams who need to be blown out and, in my opinion, Florida State is better than Virginia Tech. As we all know, Virginia has been great for the past few years thanks to their athletes and head coach Tony Bennett. Look for UVA’s defense to eventuallly wear on BC as the game goes on.
Pick: Virginia -11.5