Virginia Cavaliers at Florida State Seminoles Pick 1/15/20
Virginia Cavaliers (11-4 SU, 4-11 ATS) at Florida State Seminoles (14-2 SU, 9-7 ATS)
When: Wednesday, January 15, at 7 pm.
Where: Donald Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
Point Spread: UVA +6/FSU -6
Total: O/U 114
Last Time Out:
Virginia lost 63-55 to Syracuse in overtime; Florida State beat Wake Forest 78-68.
Scouting the Cavaliers:
Tony Bennett is going to have to do his best coaching job just to get Virginia into the NCAA tournament this year because the Cavaliers cannot shoot. Virginia still plays excellent defense because that’s a staple of Bennett Ball, but his national champions were a solid offensive team as well. This year’s team doesn’t have a Kyle Guy or Ty Jerome, who can score when the Cavaliers need a basket. Virginia hasn’t broken 65 points all season, and in 10 of their 15 games, the Cavaliers haven’t even gotten to 60. Mamadi Diakite is the best weapon Virginia has at 12.9 points a game, but the Cavaliers play so slowly that they don’t have a lot of possessions available to create offense. When shots aren’t dropping, games can get ugly quickly.
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Scouting the Seminoles:
Florida State survived its trap game nicely against Wake Forest, getting out of Winston-Salem with its 14th win of the season. The Seminoles have won seven in a row because they can play strong defense and know how to score. Florida State doesn’t get a lot of offense from its three guards of Devin Vassell, Trent Forrest, and M.J. Walker, but that’s fine because Leonard Hamilton’s crew gets contributions across the board, allowing the Seminoles to put up substantial numbers while shutting down their opponents. Florida State has held 12 of its opponents under 70 points, and the Seminoles have only failed to hit that number five times themselves, which is the main reason they look like Duke’s biggest threat in the ACC.
Slowing it down. Florida State isn’t going to mind playing slow at all because the Seminoles are very much a defense-first outfit. Florida State already played Virginia’s game against Purdue and showed that it could win, as it beat the Boilermakers in overtime. Considering Virginia lost to the same team by 29, that’s a pretty impressive result. Virginia is going to have to find some other way to bother the Seminoles and force them out of their comfort zone because this team isn’t going to be at all thrown off by the way the Cavaliers like to play.
Virginia will Cover if:
The Cavaliers can get their shots to fall. Virginia’s loss to Syracuse was because it shot 31 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from the free-throw line. Given that Bennett has no depth on this team, there’s nobody on the bench that he can turn to for a spark. Four of the Cavaliers played 36 minutes or more against Syracuse, and three played more than 40 minutes. Virginia’s got to get what it can from the starting unit.
Florida State will Cover if:
The Seminoles can play better defense than Virginia. Florida State can force Virginia to play at a tempo that it doesn’t want as the Cavaliers have to press if the Seminoles can play lockdown defense. Virginia has no real way back into the contest. The Cavaliers can’t shoot their way back into the game, and they can’t stick with Florida State if the Seminoles are making shots. All Florida State has to do is play its game, and Virginia won’t have a way to get a result.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Florida State has improved from the season opener, and the Seminoles now look worthy of contending for the ACC tournament title. Virginia, on the other hand, looks like it’s going to be hard-pressed just to get back into the NCAAs and isn’t likely to get one of the top four byes in the ACC tournament in March. Throw in that the Cavaliers are coming off two straight losses and now have to go to Tallahassee, and this looks like it could be a rough one for Bennett and company.
There are a couple of bets that I like here. If you can get Virginia at less than 55 points, I’d jump on that because the Cavaliers have only seen one defense that’s as good as Florida State. That was Purdue, and the Boilers held the Cavaliers to a mere 40 points. Plus, Virginia is so inept on offense that it needed overtime just to break 100 points total in two games against Syracuse (and barely managed it, scoring 103 points in 85 minutes of basketball).
The other bet is Florida State to cover. Virginia isn’t that good this year, and the Cavaliers aren’t likely to keep pace with a Seminoles team that’s shown it can get it done at both ends of the floor. Give me the Noles.