Syracuse Orange at No. 13 Virginia Cavaliers
Time: 6 PM CT (ESPN 2, ESPN 3)
Spread: UVA -10
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The No. 13 ranked Virginia Cavaliers are 14-4 this season and still sit No. 8 in the ACC.
It will have a chance to improve on that standing when it hosts the Syracuse Orange on ESPN2/3 tonight at 6 PM Central time. NCAA basketball oddsmakers are favoring the Cavaliers by 10-points with an over/under of 125.5.
Virginia has lost three of its past five games, falling to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State. It notched victories over Miami (FL) and most recently Clemson. In the 69-62 win over Clemson, Virginia got 20 points on 7 of 11 shooting from guard Malcolm Brogdon. The 6’5” senior is averaging 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and three assists per game this season.
Brogdon has increased his scoring average all three seasons he has spent at Virginia, and he is shooting a career-high 43 percent from the field this year while also having connected on 37 percent of his triples. Brogdon has scored 20 or more in two of his past five contests, and he has connected on a three in all five of those games (though he was just 1 of 9 from three-point range against Georgia Tech in the loss).
Brogdon has got sufficient help scoring the ball from Anthony Gill this season. Gill is another senior and the 6’8” forward is posting 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field. He had 12 points and five boards in the win over Clemson and he was good against FSU too, though the Cavaliers lost.
Gill scored 13 on 5 of 8 shooting in the 69-62 loss to the Seminoles, and if Virginia can consistently count on this type of production from both Gill and Brogdon, its offense may be good enough to make a tournament run. The typical knock against UVA has been that it is all defense and not enough offense, but that may be changing this season.
The Cavaliers are averaging 73 points per game as a team while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor, both marks help showing why the team is AP ranked this season. Granted this is the regular season and the Cavs have “already” dropped four games, but the indications and eye test reveal this is a team that could make a tourney run.
Syracuse had a four-game losing streak recently snapped by reeling off its past three wins over Boston College, Wake Forest and then-No. 20 Duke. The 64-62 win over the Blue Devils came on Jan 18, and Syracuse placed four of its five starters in double figures, all of them scoring 14 points.
Big man Tyler Roberson had an absolutely dominant version thereof though, grabbing 20 boards, including 12 of those on the offensive end. It made it easy for him to go 7 of 14 from the field with good positioning on the interior following the caroms.
Roberson is nearly averaging a double-double this season with 10.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Michael Gbinje is the leading scorer for the Orange at 17.1 points per game, and he has been instrumental in playmaking too, leading Syracuse with 4.6 assists per game. He is shooting 45 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from three point range, giving the Orange four shooters all better than 33 percent from behind the arc this season.
Syracuse has a very tough bill competing with Virginia in this game, evidenced by the 10-point spread, but do not write off the Orange with the way Roberson has been on the boards and how masterful Gbinje has been with the ball in his hands.
The Orange may be out-matched in this game, but it is not quite as lopsided as oddsmakers project. Bettors may be wise to consider Syracuse covering this 10-point spread. Neither team is housing any injured players, so this is a good look at two quality teams at full-strength.