Texas Tech vs. Virginia Pick
Texas Tech Red Raiders (31-6 SU, 20-16-1 ATS) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (34-3 SU, 25-12 ATS)
When: Monday, April 8, 2019 – 9:20 PM ET
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
By: Dan Jamison, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TTU +1/UVA -1 (Mybookie)
Total: O/U 117
Last Time Out: Texas Tech beat Michigan State 61-51; Virginia beat Auburn 63-62.
Scouting the Red Raiders:
The Red Raiders found themselves up against the school that traditionally stops the slow-paced squads in the NCAA tournament and a funny thing happened: they refused to let Michigan State gets its nose in front. Instead, the Red Raiders found one final gear as they pushed past the Spartans to land the ultimate battle of coaching and defense.
For all their similarities as programs, the schools have never met in a competitive game. The Red Raiders come in looking to build off a masterful performance that saw Cassius Winston held to a mere 4-for-16 shooting and the Spartans taken out of sorts as a result. While the Spartans sputtered, the Red Raiders came into their own and took control of the contest, forcing Michigan State to try to force the issue in an attempt to come back. As anyone who’s watched the Red Raiders knows, forcing the issue never works against Texas Tech, leading us to Monday night.
Scouting the Cavaliers:
That was far too close for Virginia. The Cavaliers seemed to have a comfortable win over Auburn sealed up with five minutes to go, but Virginia went ice cold at the worst possible moment and would have lost its golden moment if not for Kyle Guy single-handedly saving the day.
How you look at Virginia’s win over Auburn depends greatly on how you look at Virginia’s matchup with Texas Tech. On one hand, Virginia proved that it could win a game where Mamadi Diakite was essentially a non-factor, as he only scored two points and the Cavaliers still pulled it out. On the other, Virginia wasn’t able to get Diakite involved in the offense against a good-but-not-great Auburn defense. Against a great Texas Tech defense that is likely to try to take Diakite out of the game, how will Virginia respond?
If the Cavaliers have a plan to try to combat the Red Raiders’ defensive strategy, they’ll have to make sure they’ve got a solid plan B, as the Red Raiders have the ability to take Diakite or Kyle Guy out of the game and Virginia is not deep enough to get unexpected help from its bench. The points have to come from the starters, and they have to come in a way that Texas Tech isn’t expecting to force the Red Raiders out of their comfort zone.
Pressure: There is nothing like the feel of the national championship game, and there’s no way to know that for sure until you’ve seen it for yourself. These two teams know each other well, know how to play each other’s style and can adjust to whatever they see in the national title game. They’re also both new to this stage, as neither has ever coached in the national championship game, which means that neither will have the advantage as far as communicating with their players.
As such, both coaches will find themselves asked to make decisions throughout the contest that haven’t come up before this season. Whichever coach and team can put the distractions of the title game to the side and get back to the main task — beating a loaded basketball team — will have the edge concerning the title.
Texas Tech will Cover if:
The Red Raiders can get the job done by getting into the passing lanes. This is going to be a battle of defense first, and one of the teams’ defensive strengths is likely to be the deciding factor. Texas Tech’s big edge is its ability to bury its opponents, but the Red Raiders can only do that when they’re getting their foe to beat itself. Virginia hasn’t done that all year, meaning Texas Tech has to be at its best at all times to force the Cavaliers to fall apart.
Virginia will Cover if:
The Cavaliers can attack the glass and get easy shots. Jack Salt, a forgotten man for much of the tournament, could prove a surprising weapon for Virginia because the Red Raiders don’t have the size to deal with someone like Salt on the interior. Virginia needs to get active on the offensive glass and extend their possessions that way, as Texas Tech does not have the interior game needed to stack up to Salt inside — if he’s motivated to get the job done.
The Achilles’ heel for Texas Tech all season its lack of ability on the boards, and this will be as critical as ever in the biggest game of the season. Virginia has to attack and make that edge count.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Lost in the end of the Cavaliers’ escape against Auburn was the fact that Virginia was in control of the game until the final five minutes. The Cavaliers might have needed some key heroics and found short of the cover, but they were the best team on the floor and did enough to save themselves straight-up on Saturday night.
I think it happens again. Virginia just seems to be ready for this moment and appears to finally have all of the pieces in place to wear the crown as NCAA champions. Texas Tech has played brilliantly so far, but I’m not picking against Kyle Guy now. I’m going with the Cavaliers to get the cover and cut down the nets at along last.
50% Free Play up to $1,000