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Defense, Discipline Carry Virginia in 2014

We would be hard-pressed to find a better defensive team in college basketball than Virginia as the Cavaliers are allowing a mere 56.6 points per game at 37.8% shooting from the field.  Even more impressive is the fact that Virginia is limiting opponents to just 49.9 points per game at home on 35.4% shooting from the floor and 26.7% shooting from beyond the arc.  Overall, head coach Tony Bennett’s squad is 16.4 points per game better than average defensively this season (56.6 points per game to teams that would combine to average 73.0 points per game).

The ongoing problem for Virginia remains its offense that is averaging just 66.5 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 67.4 points per game to a mediocre offensive squad.  While Virginia is 0.9 points per game worse than average offensively, the Cavaliers have shown some life on the offensive end of the floor recently as they are averaging 71.0 points per game over their last five contests.  Over that period of time, Virginia owns wins against Florida State (twice; 62-50 and 78-66), Wake Forest (74-51) and North Carolina State (76-45).  The lone loss came at Duke where the Cavaliers covered as 5.5-point underdogs (69-65 final).

Virginia vs. North Carolina

North Carolina arrives in town with an 11-6 record, but the Tar Heels are only 3-3 SU and ATS on the road this season.  From a fundamental standpoint, North Carolina is 6.5 points per game better than average offensively (76.0 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 69.5 points per game) and 5.5 points per game better than average defensively (67.9 points per game to teams that would combine to average 73.4 points per game).  North Carolina’s offensive output also declines on the road where the Tar Heals are averaging just 70.8 points per game, including shooting a woeful 23.2% from three-point territory.

It’s hard to imagine North Carolina eclipsing 65 points tonight in light of the fact that the Cavaliers possess a significant 9.9 points per game advantage defensively over the Tar Heels’ attack.  We also know that North Carolina struggles against good defensive teams as evidenced by the fact that the Tar Heels are 13-29 ATS on the road versus teams who are limiting opponents to 39% or worse from the field.  Let’s also note that Virginia is 17-8 ATS as a home favorite, 9-2 ATS at home versus conference opponents, 11-3 ATS at home after covering the point spread and 10-1 ATS at home after winning two of its last three games.

Pro Edge Sports Free Pick: Virginia (-7) (-110) over North Carolina