Everything is on the table.
The ACC runs for one last week but it would seem that today’s matchup between Syracuse and Virginia will decide the regular season champion. Somehow, some way, Syracuse started the season 25-0 and is an underdog to take home its own conference championship. The Orange enters the March 1st tilt as 3.5-point underdogs in Charlottesville.
This game will be extremely slow. The time will move at the same speed but Virginia likes to minimize possessions. Tony Bennett is still the best three-point shooter in the history of college basketball and he knows how to effectively use the deep ball with his team. The Cavaliers will slow this game down and take a lot of three’s. The question is whether the Syracuse defense is ready for what the uber-effective Virginia offense is about to throw at them. Each team will likely get about 60 chances on its own half of the floor. The key for Virginia is three-point shooting and Syracuse’s chance to win lies in its ability to create transition opportunities and capitalize on them like the Orange knows it does. Knowing that, it’s tough to pick against UVA.
Although his backcourt mates do most of the heavy lifting, freshman London Perrantes carries the point guard duties for Virginia. Say what you want about Tyler Ennis but the Cavalier floor general averages exactly 1.0 turnover per game in just short of 30 minutes each time out. In turn, the Cavs take care of the ball and get full possessions. Virginia gives it up just ten times per game, which means the Orange will struggle to get out in transition.
And when they’re not turning the ball over, which is rare, Virginia will shoot plenty of three’s and free-throws. Tony Bennett’s team knows its identity. Joe Harris is one of the most efficient three-point shooters in the nation and Malcolm Brogdon converts freebies at nearly a 90 percent clip. The two leading-scorers for Virginia will come out with a plan, ready to execute.
This game will simply come down to efficiency. At home, Virginia will be prepared to execute the game plan that its basically mastered after an entire ACC schedule. Ride the Cavs in Charlottesville.
Free Pick: Virginia -3.5