NCAA Basketball Spread: Virginia -8
Last year’s game between these two teams went right down to the wire with Virginia picking up a 49-47 win at Clemson. Both teams have won their last two games heading into this contest. Virginia picked up an impressive win at North Carolina State on Saturday, while Clemson took care of business against Wake Forest. Clemson has underperformed against expectations so far this year, while Virginia has outperformed preseason expectations. Virginia is 10-1 at home this year. Can the Cavaliers keep it going in this ACC matchup?
Brad Brownell’s team has taken a bit of a step back so far this year. This was an NCAA Tournament team last year, but they’ll have to get their act together in a hurry if they hope to return to the NCAA Tournament this year. Offensively, Clemson just hasn’t been very efficient at all. Andre Young is the Tigers leading scorer at 13.9 points per game, but he shoots just 42.5% from the floor. Clemson doesn’t have anyone who is knocking down the three-pointer consistently, which has allowed the opposition to pack the paint and keep the Tigers from penetrating the lane.
Clemson controls the tempo and slows the game down quite a bit. Defensively, they are giving up only 59.7 points per game. The Tigers have struggled to guard opponents beyond the three-point line. The opposition has knocked down almost 36% of their tries from three-point range. Milton Jennings and Devin Booker are solid post defenders for Clemson.
Tony Bennett has this Virginia Cavaliers team fully buying into his system, and it has paid off in a big way so far this year. The Cavaliers are just one game behind Duke and North Carolina in the ACC standings. Mike Scott is the star for this Cavaliers team. Scott averages 16.7 points per game, and he is shooting better than 57% from the floor. Scott has terrific post moves and he can also step out and hit the outside shot when he needs to. Sammy Zeglinksi and Jontel Evans both do a nice job stretching the defense with their outside shooting ability. Virginia shoots 73% from the free throw line as a team, and that has won them several close games this year.
The real story with this Virginia team is their terrific defense. The Cavaliers allow just 50.6 points per game, which is second best in the nation. Opponents shoot a miserable 38.8% from the field against Virginia’s tough man-to-man defense. In addition, the Cavaliers do a great job grabbing defensive rebounds. They are among the best in the nation at keeping their opponent off the offensive boards.
It is a very low number, but I think a game between these two stays below the posted total here. Look for a defensive battle.
Free College Basketball Pick: Under 109
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