#2 Virginia Cavaliers (26-2) at Syracuse Orange (19-10)
NCAA Basketball: Monday, March 4th, 2019 at 7:00 pm (Carrier Dome)
Line and Odds: Virginia Cavaliers -6 Over/Under: 122.5
Free ESPN NCAA Basketball Picks Syracuse Orange vs. Virginia Cavaliers
The Virginia Cavaliers can credibly make the claim that they are the best team in the nation. They are in prime position to land a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and they have the potential to land the #1 overall seed if the season’s end breaks their way. Virginia has an overall record of 26-2 and a conference record of 14-2. With two ACC games left, UVA is tied for 1st place in the ACC standings with the North Carolina Tar Heels. They are 2nd in both the Associated Press Top 25 College Basketball Poll and Top 25 Coaches Poll. Virginia has signature wins over Wisconsin, Maryland, VCU, Florida State, Virginia Tech (twice), Louisville, and North Carolina.
Tony Bennett’s squad has been remarkable over the past few years. They have gone 57-5 over the last two seasons. Unfortunately, one of those losses was a 20 point loss to UMBC in last season’s opening round in the NCAA tournament. Virginia has done its best to put that ugly defeat behind them, but it still lingers when it comes to the reputation of the program. This team has the potential to win the national championship and soothe the pain of last season’s embarrassment.
On Saturday, Virginia defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 73-49. It was a classic Cavaliers dominating performance. UVA shot 58.5% from the field and 56.3% from 3-point range. They got to the foul line 20 times and hit 16 of their free throws. Pittsburgh was forced to shoot 38.6% from the field and 31.6% from 3-point range. The Cavaliers also won the turnover battle 15-10. Kyle Guy scored 17 points, Ty Jerome scored 13 points, and De’Andre Hunter scored 12 points.
Like all Tony Bennett-coached teams, Virginia has an excellent defense. They are 3rd in adjusted defensive rating, allowing 82.55 points per 100 possessions. The Cavaliers defense is 3rd in effective field goal percentage, forcing teams to shoot an eFG% of 42.9%. Unlike Virginia teams in the past, this team’s offense is just as good as their defense. Virginia is 2nd in adjusted offensive rating, scoring 124.05 points per 100 possessions. The Cavalier offense is 28th in effective field goal percentage and 13th in turnover percentage.
The Syracuse Orange are trying to make an end-of-year push to improve their standing in the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse has a record of 19-10 overall and a 10-6 record in conference. They are currently in 6th place on the ACC leaderboard. The top 4 teams in the ACC regular-season get a double-bye into the ACC quarterfinals, while the 5th-place through 8th-place teams get just one bye and have to play a 2nd round game. Syracuse is 1 game behind the Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Tech Hokies, who are tied for 4th place in the conference. This upcoming game is very important for the fate of Syracuse’s season.
To some extent, this season has been a disappointment for Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse squad. The Orange are currently unranked in both the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and Top 25 Coaches Poll. They won at Duke which is one of the most impressive wins of any team this season. They also have quality wins over Louisville and Ohio State. However, Syracuse has some ugly losses against UConn, Oregon, Old Dominion, and Georgia Tech. It has been an uneven season for Syracuse, but ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has the Orange in the NCAA tournament as an #8 seed. This is a reflection of Syracuse’s resume, but also shows just how soft the bubble is this season.
Syracuse is coming off of a win at Wake Forest. The Orange beat the Demon Deacons 79-54 in Winston-Salem. It is noteworthy that Syracuse was able to win a game by 25 despite shooting 21.1% (4/21) from 3-point range. Syracuse forced Wake Forest to shoot 32.7% (17/52) from the field. The Orange shot 27/38 from 2-point range and won the turnover battle 23 to 14. Guard Tyus Battle scored 21 points and forward Elijah Hughes scored 18 points.
Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone has been stingy, as usual, this season. Syracuse is 14th in adjusted defensive rating, allowing 88.56 points per 100 possessions. The Orange are 30th in effective field goal percentage defense and 19th in defensive turnover percentage. Syracuse is 52nd in adjusted offensive rating, scoring 111.36 points per 100 possessions. Tyus Battle is 5th in the ACC in scoring with 17.7 points per game.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Virginia is 10-1 ATS in its last 11 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Virginia’s last 23 games on the road
Virginia is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Syracuse
Syracuse is 13-5 ATS in its last 18 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Syracuse’s last 6 games
Syracuse is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games at home
ESPN NCAA Basketball Scores Virginia Cavaliers vs. Syracuse Orange
Predicting that the Virginia Cavaliers will cover the spread in this matchup. I struggle to see how Syracuse’s offense will be able to score enough points to keep this game close. Virginia will force Syracuse to shoot contested shots and they will force the Orange offense into a high number of turnovers. The strength of Syracuse’s team is the defense, but UVA’s offense is more effective than the Cuse defense. Syracuse’s opponents shoot a high number of three point attempts because of how difficult the 2-3 zone is to penetrate. Teams that are able to shoot a high percentage from beyond the arc can successfully shoot over that Syracuse zone. UVA is 4th in the nation with a 3-point field goal percentage of 40.1%. Take UVA and give the points.
Virginia Cavaliers -6