With the end of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge upon us, I’m not sure I’ve ever had less confidence in the ACC. Syracuse is 3-3, Florida State has only won one game, and Louisville has yet to crack the win column despite playing three teams ranked 163rd or worse by KenPom (including two in the 200’s). Then, as I look down the board I see three, maybe four wins over the next two nights. Yuck! But we’re not here to predict who wins and loses, we’re picking spreads and totals. So, head over to Draftkings Sportsbook and get a sweat regardless of whether or not the conference goes 0-12.
I don’t think I’m alone among UVA fans who was pleasantly surprised by the Hoos’ performance in Las Vegas. The challenge continues as they travel to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines. Michigan hasn’t caught their stride yet falling to Arizona State and needing OT to outlast the Ohio Bobcats. Virginia will set the pace, as they always do, which could frustrate the Wolverines. Neither team turns it over and both limit offensive boards, so expect plenty of one and done possessions. As we’re accustomed to seeing, 60 could win this game. Therefore like the under.
Pick: Under 128
I think these teams are almost mirror images of one another. Both slow things down on the defensive end and play a middle of the road pace on offense. More importantly, they’re both relatively efficient and comfortable playing 60 possession games. That’s why I like the over. Penn State shoots the 7th most threes in the country and are hitting at over 40%. Clemson ranks in the bottom half of the country in allowing threes, so as long as the Nittany Lions hit at a rate in the high 30’s and the Tigers can hang, I see 132 points a high possibility.
Pick: Over 131.5
When Louisville left for Maui, I was intrigued as to how they’d fare. Sure, they were 0-3 with losses to Bellarmine, Wright State, and Appalachian State. But each of those losses came by a single point apiece, including one where the game-winning basket went in just a fraction of a second after the buzzer sounded. Then they proceeded to lose their three games on the island by an average of 26 points. Call me a masochist, but I like them in this spot. Maryland had a couple impressive wins over Miami and St. Louis, but I’m not sold yet. Louisville’s non-steal turnover percentage is almost dead-last in the country. That’s coaching, that’s mental mistakes. If Louisville can clean that up, I think they can be competitive. Either way, it’s a lot of points, so I’m going to plug my nose and take the home dog.
Pick: Louisville +12.5
While I like Louisville getting 12, I can’t say the same for Syracuse. Illinois and Maryland are different animals. How do you beat the Syracuse defense? Put an athletic wing in the center who can create for himself and others. Make threes. Hit the offensive glass. What can Illinois do well? Put Terrance Shannon in the middle of the zone where he can create for himself and others. Shoot 46% of their attempts from three and hit them at a 38% clip. Rank 32nd in the country in offensive rebound percentage. Oh yeah, and they can play suffocating defense. Sure, Syracuse will surprise us a couple times per year, but I don’t think it happens here. Illinois is a complete team, so like them to roll at home.
Pick: Illinois -12
Last week I found myself watching a fair bit of the Battle for Atlantis and thought Wisconsin played pretty well. Wins over Dayton and USC don’t really move the needle, but Wake shouldn’t provide much more of a challenge. The Deacons haven’t seen a team like Wisconsin all year. They’ve only played one game all year in under 70 possessions when they scored 71 points against Fairfield. I don’t suddenly expect them to become the picture of efficiency in Madison. I think the Badgers get their tempo, control the game throughout, and keep the game in the low 60s.
Pick: Under 130.5
You want a rush? Try betting an Iowa under. Even when they go cold and lose by 13, they’re game total approaches 150 points. If this total ticks up a couple more points, give me the under, but at 150 I like Georgia Tech to cover. The Yellow Jackets can run with the Hawkeyes if it comes to that, but more so can slow them down when they’re on the defensive end much like TCU did on Saturday.
Pick: Georgia Tech +15.5
Season Total: ATS (0-1-0), O/U (3-2-0), Total (3-3-0)