I have been saying for weeks that Virginia is a legitimate Final Four contender and could potentially win the NCAA Tournament later this month. The Cavaliers are 11-2 ATS versus teams with a winning record and 8-0 ATS versus teams who are outscoring their opponents by four or more points on the season. More importantly, Virginia is a profitable 14-4 ATS versus conference opponents and 10-4 SU and 9-5 ATS on the road this season.
Fundamental Analysis: Virginia
Virginia possesses one of the best defenses in the nation as the Cavaliers are allowing just 55.4 points per game to teams that would combine to average 70.3 points per game. Even more impressive is the fact that Virginia is allowing 54.5 points per game to conference opponents (38.7% FG; 30.1% 3-PT) and 54.5 points over its last five games (38.5% FG; 25.3% 3-PT). Overall, Virginia is 14.9 points per game better than average defensively, which is certainly good enough to contain a decent Pittsburgh attack that is 6.2 points per game better than average (73.0 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.8 points per game).
While Virginia’s offense is mediocre (66.3 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.8 points per game), the Cavaliers have been much more efficient offensively over the last couple of weeks. In fact, coach Tony Bennett’s squad is shooting 46.8% from the field and 41.9% from beyond the arc over the last five games. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s solid defense (6.8 points per game better than average) has been on decline over the last five games. Specifically, the Panthers are yielding 69.4 points over that span, including giving up 81 points to Notre Dame, 78 points to Clemson and 75 points to North Carolina.
From a technical standpoint, Virginia is 13-2-1 ATS in its last sixteen games versus teams with a winning record, including 9-1-1 ATS versus teams with a win percentage of .601 or greater. The Cavaliers are also 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 games, 11-4-1 ATS following a win and 10-3 ATS after covering the point spread. Let’s also note that Pittsburgh is an unreliable 2-8-1 ATS in its last eleven conference tournament games and now face a surging Virginia squad that is ranked in the nation’s Top 10 in both Defensive Field Goal (.381) and Rebound Margin (+7.5).
Finally, today’s game involves a significant coaching mismatch between Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon. After leading the Virginia men’s basketball team to its first outright ACC regular season title since 1981, Bennett was named the league’s coach of the year Tuesday. Bennett’s accomplishment is even more impressive when considering the fact that the Cavaliers were picked to finish fourth in the ACC’s preseason media poll. Bennett responded by guiding Virginia to a 25-6 record during the regular season, including 13 straight wins and a 16-2 mark during ACC play. Lay the points with Virginia and invest with confidence.