ACC Betting Picks: #4 Syracuse Orange at #12 Virginia Cavaliers

#4 Syracuse Orange at #12 Virginia Cavaliers
John Paul Jones Arena – Charlottesville, Virginia

Saturday, March 1, 2014, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Virginia -4 1/2
Current Line: Virginia -4
Opening Total: 116
Current Total: 116
Opening Money Line: Virginia -185 / Syracuse +160
Current Money Line: Virginia -180 / Syracuse +155  

syracuse is a 4 point underdog at Virginia in a battle for first place in the ACC.
syracuse is a 4 point underdog at Virginia in a battle for first place in the ACC.

The Virginia Cavaliers went through the non-conference portion of their schedule with a not very impressive 9-4 record. Absolutely no one thought they would contend for the ACC title. However, the 24-5 Cavaliers sit atop the ACC standings with a 15-1 record. Virginia has won 12 straight games, and will clinch the outright ACC regular season title with a win Saturday. It won’t be easy as the Cavaliers host the second place Syracuse Orange. Syracuse is 26-2 overall, and 13-2 in conference. Both teams have a shot at reaching 16 ACC wins, something only Duke in 1999 has accomplished.

Syracuse leads the series against Virginia 3-1, but they haven’t played since Syracuse won in the Carrier Dome 73-70 in 2008. This is the only scheduled meeting between the new conference rivals, but they could meet in the ACC tournament in a couple of weeks.

Syracuse is coached by Jim Boeheim. The Orange began the season 25-0 but lost two straight games last week to Boston College and at Duke. Syracuse has key wins over Cornell and Fordham at home, Minnesota, California, and Baylor (all in the Maui Invitational), Indiana at home, at St. John’s, and Villanova at home. In conference, Syracuse has home wins over Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh Duke, Notre Dame , Clemson, and North Carolina State plus road wins at Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Maryland 57-55 Monday. The Orange are 13-9-2 ATS and the total is 6-15-2 this season.

Syracuse is outscoring teams 70-58 this season. The Orange are #7 nationally in points allowed. Syracuse is shooting 45.4% from the field and 35.7.3% from 3 point range. The Orange make 70.5% of their free throws. Syracuse opponents are shooting 40.4% from the field and 33.7% from 3 point range. The Orange average 35.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.2 per game. Syracuse is #19 nationally in rebounds allowed. The Orange average 13 assists, 9.4 turnovers, 8.9 steals and 5.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 13 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 4.5 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.

Syracuse forward C.J. Fair averages 16.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Trevor Cooney averages 14.1 points, 2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. Forward Jerami Grant averages 12.8 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. He is probable with a back injury. Guard Tyler Ennis averages 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. Forward Rakeem Christmas averages 5.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Forward DeJuan Coleman averages 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game but is out for the season with a knee injury. Michael Gbinije, Tyler Roberson, and Baye-Moussa Keita also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Virginia is coached by Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers have losses to VCU, Wisconsin, at Green Bay, at Tennessee and at Duke. Virginia has key wins over James Madison, Davidson in Charlotte, SMU & Missouri State in a tournament in Corpus Christi, TX, Northern Iowa, Florida State twice, Wake Forest, at NC State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech twice, Notre Dame twice, at Pittsburgh, Boston College, at Georgia Tech, Maryland, at Clemson and Miami 65-40 Wednesday. Virginia is 15-9-1 ATS and the total is 10-13 this season.

Virginia is outscoring teams 66-55 this season. The Cavaliers are #1 in points allowed nationally and #294 out of 351 teams in scoring. Virginia is shooting 45.2% from the field and 36.8% from 3 point range. The Cavs are #298 in free throw shooting making just 65.9% from the line. Opponents are shooting  38.2% from the field and 32% from 3 point range. The Cavaliers are #8 nationally in field goal defense. Virginia averages 36 rebounds a game and opponents average 25.7. The Cavaliers are #1 in rebounds allowed nationally.  Virginia averages 13.1 assists, 11 turnovers, 6.3 steals and 4 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.9 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.

Guard Malcolm Brogdon averages 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Joe Harris averages 11.3 points, 3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1 steal per game. Guard Justin Anderson averages 9.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Forward Anthony Gill averages 7.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Forward/center Mike Tobey averages 7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Forward Akil Mitchell averages 6.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1 steal per game. Guard London Perrantes averages 4.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Forward Darion Atkins averages 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Syracuse is 5-1-1 ATS in road games, 6-2-1 against teams with winning home records, 13-6-1 after a straight up win, 4-9-2 in Saturday games, 0-3-1 overall, and in ACC games.

Virginia is 11-1-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 7-1-1 after a win by more than 20 points, 12-3-1 overall and in ACC games, 4-1 against teams with winning road records, 7-2 at home, 10-3-1 after a straihgt up win, 19-6-1 in Saturday games, and 35-17-1 after a cover.

Virginia hasn’t won the ACC title since 2007, but that could change with a win Saturday against Syracuse. The Orange have played 5 straight games decided by 6 points or less, and four of those were by 3 points or less. I think this will be another close low scoring game between two of the best defensive teams in the country. Virginia wins in front of a rollicking home crowd.

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