If there are any constants in college basketball, it’s that when you watch the Syracuse Orange you’re going to be looking at a matchup zone defense and when you see the Virginia Cavaliers you will be looking at a Pack Line defense.
Those are the calling cards coaches Jim Boeheim and Tony Bennett live by, and it provides a pretty solid foundation for evaluating this ACC game that gets underway at 7 PM ET at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. And if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can access reduced juice on this game to help you get better odds.
And speaking of odds, this is what they have posted on this contest:
Virginia Cavaliers -7
Syracuse Orange +7
Over 130 points -110
Under 130 points -110
When you think about it, Virginia is the reigning national champion. Aren’t they? Without an NCAA Tournament last season, you’d probably have to say that.
You can usually be assured that the Cavaliers are going to do a lot of fundamental things well. And this includes some solid shooting, as they are among the top 25 in the country (out of 357 teams) in marksmanship from both two and three-point range. And from the line, they are a blistering 80.4%, which is fourth best in the country.
During the Bennett era, they have also defended without fouling; only 15% of their opponents’ points come from the charity stripe.
And like all of Bennett’s teams, they take care of the ball. Virginia has turned the ball over on only 13.5% of its possessions, which ranks them fourth in the nation in offensive TO percentage.
Interestingly enough, the numbers attached to Virginia’s defensive performance are not as glittering as they have been in much of the recent past. Well that is, if you consider allowing 34.6% shooting from three-point range to be a huge disappointment.
One thing Virginia’s shooters had better be ready for is a Syracuse zone that has been stingy. The Orange have held the opposition to 28.6% from downtown.
But you know, a stop is not a stop unless you can pull down the defensive rebound. And this is an area the matchup zone is always going to have trouble with. That kind of scheme is different from the Pack Line in that it does not normally allow for defenders to directly box out the opposition on the boards. The result is that you allow a lot of second-shot opportunities. That’s what Virginia should get, and that will chew some clock, because when you talk about the Cavs, you’re talking about one of the most patient, deliberate teams in the nation.
So that’s a difference between these two, as standouts like 7-foot Jay Huff, Marquette transfer Sam Hauser and Trey Murphy will be able to grab their share of rebounds.And those guys can all get to the circle and hit triples, whereas Syracuse doesn’t have a lot of three-point artillery.
And why is that extra important? Well, because Virginia’s scheme has made it real difficult for Syracuse to operate from short and mid-range when they’ve gone head-to-head. Last season, the Orange managed just 28% shooting from TWO-point range in two meetings. When you do that and hit a bunch of threes you might be able to get by. But Syracuse doesn’t throw them down like that.
And that’s why we’ll lay the points.
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