NCAAB Monday Night Picks - The Battle for Virginia

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D.S. Williamson

February 18th, 2019

One of the best rivalries on the hardcourt takes place this Monday when the Virginia Cavaliers travel to Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, VA to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. It's been a relatively one-sided war, with the Virginia Cavaliers going 7-3 SU in the last 10 meetings between the two, but the Hokies have been a wily play against the book with a 6-4 ATS record in those same games. That's why making choosing a side in my NCAAB Monday Night Picks is a little less straightforward than you might believe.

#4 Virginia Cavaliers at #16 Virginia Tech Hokies Monday, Feb. 18th – Cassell Coliseum – 7:00pm ET Odds: Virginia -5 (119.5)

The Cavaliers are fighting for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament while the Hokies look to bolster their chances for a top 4 seed in the tourney. Who takes it on Monday night? Keep reading for analysis and a free pick.

UVA Hopes for Repeat of Last Game

The last game between these two was downright awesome if you’re a Cavaliers fan. Virginia didn’t even allow the Hokies to take a breath in their 81-59 beatdown just over a month ago. How did VA Tech lose so badly?

Virginia only allows 54.4 points per game. Knowing this, the Hokies tried to speed up the game. They took 44 shots from the field and 21 threes. VA Tech must have felt that if they could get UVA into an up and down game, they could beat the Cavaliers before they had a chance to set up their half-court defense.

Forcing the action proved to be a bad move. UVA took advantage. They shot 58.5% from the field and 54.2% from three. Virginia continually beat the Hokies in transition. If UVA can speed up the game on Monday, we could be looking at a result similar to the first game.

VA Tech Believes They Can Turn the Tables

Virginia Tech will change tactics on Monday night. That’s why they believe that they can exact revenge on the Virginia Cavaliers. The Hokies will slow the game down as much as they can. They will also put an emphasis on getting back on defense instead of putting an emphasis on transition basketball.

Although slowing the game down forces VA Tech to play a game that’s led to many UVA victories, it’s really the only way for the Hokies to beat a team like Virginia. VA Tech is a defense-first team, but they’re also excellent at shooing threes.

The Hokies rank second in college hoops behind the three-point line. They’re good on 41.8% of their three-point attempts. The best way for VA Tech to upset Virginia on Monday night is to take their time on offense and run three-point shooters off of screens.

That will help them a couple of ways. First, they should hit 4-of-10 three point shots. If they can raise that to 5-of-10, they’ll win no matter what UVA does. Second, shooting threes should allow them to get back on defense much quicker.

An emphasis on defense and game speed is going to be the difference in this game, and how effective the Hokies are at controlling the tempo of the game is going to pivotal in them going through for their backers in NCAAB Monday Night Picks.

Virginia-Virginia Tech Final Analysis and Pick

Only Duke has beaten Virginia straight up this season, but Virginia Tech only has 5 losses: Pen State, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, and Clemson. The losses to Louisville and Clemson were back-to-back.

Since then, VA Tech has won 2 straight, over Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. The problem for VA Tech’s that they’ve been terrible against the spread lately, going 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4.

But, UVA’s been worse against the spread with a 1-4 ATS record in their last 5. Virginia is 7-1 ATS in road games this season, though, proving that they step it up on their opponents’ courts.

Flexibility should be the key in this matchup. The Cavaliers can play any type of game. VA Tech must rely on the strategy laid out above to stick with UVA, and even then, the Hokies must play perfectly, hitting their three-point shots and getting back on defense.

Even with a solid game plan, Virginia Tech just isn’t on Virginia’s level. The Cavaliers should win and cover as a road favorite.

NCAAB Monday Night Picks: Virginia