NCAA Tournament Picks, Odds: (12) Liberty Flames vs (4) Virginia Tech Hokies

Big South Tournament

(12) Liberty vs (4) Virginia Tech

Time: 6:10 PM CST (Tru TV)

Spread: VATC -8.5

Total: 124.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

VT

The Virginia Tech Hokies finished the season with a 25-8 record and a No. 16 AP ranking. It defeated Saint Louis 66-52 in the first round, and now it draws #12 seeded Liberty. The Hokies are 8.5-point favorites over Liberty, with an over/under set at 124.5 points for the game.

Virginia Tech got 20 points from Nickeil Alexander-Walker in the opening round win. The guard connected on 8 of 13 from three-point range and also had six rebounds, an assist, and a team-high three steals. Forward Kerry Blackshear contributed 15 points and three rebounds, but he shot just 2 of 7 from the field, doing most of his damage from the free throw line where he knocked down 11 of 12. The Hokies shot 27 free throws in the game and connected on 22 (81 percent) which helped it overcome shooting just 41.7 percent from the floor. Tech also knocked down its threes, though, hitting 4 of the 10 it took. The Hokies were out-rebounded by seven, but it limited Saint Louis to just 36 percent shooting and held the Billikens to a pitiful 4 of 23 from behind the arc.

Alexander-Walker averaged 16.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game this year, while Blackshear was good for 14 and 7. The Hokies ordinarily attempt more threes than it did in its first-round win. The team shot 779 on the season at a 39.4 percent clip. Will it turn to the three more in Round 2 against Liberty, or continue to push inside the arc for high percentage shots? It largely depends on how Liberty chooses to defend the arc, and whether it goes with a man defense or a zone.

LIB

Liberty finished 28-6 this season with a 14-2 mark in conference play. It ended its season with five straight wins and a conference title to earn its bid into the NCAA tournament. Liberty is an outstanding defensive team, ranking No. 5 in the nation in points allowed (60.8) but it also plays a really weak schedule (obviously). The Flames did not face a ranked opponent all season, and it also went just 1-3 against big conference opponents, with its lone big win a triumph over UCLA.

The Flames do not create a ton of turnovers despite its top-flight defense, but it also does not commit many either. Liberty averaged just 11 per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line. Scottie James, Caleb Homesley, and Lovell Cabbil Jr. all averaged double figures for the Flames this season, and James also led the team in rebounding at 8.8 per game. When James has a double-double Liberty has fared 6-2 this season.

Liberty defeated Mississippi State 80-76 in the first round, one of three 12 over 5 upsets this year. The Flames got 30 points from Homesley and 18 from Lovell Cabbit Jr. Homesley was without a conscience: He shot 5 of 11 from three, and the rest of the team hit 7 of 14, as Liberty finished the game 12 of 25 (48 percent) from three. The Flames took care of the ball (10 turnovers) and hit the triple, which enabled it to overcome a 4-rebound deficit on the boards. Liberty also got 20 points from its bench, while outscoring Mississippi State 45-39 in the second half after leading by just two at the half. 64 percent of bettors at Covers are choosing Liberty to cover the spread in this second round matchup.

ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):

Liberty
  • Flames are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
  • Flames are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Flames are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
  • Flames are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
  • Flames are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 non-conference games.
  • Flames are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS win.
  • Flames are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games.
Virginia Tech
  • Hokies are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
  • Hokies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games.
  • Hokies are 20-8 ATS in their last 28 non-conference games.
  • Hokies are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
  • Hokies are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
  • Hokies are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Hokies are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
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