When you engage in examining player props for Monday night’s national championship game between the Virginia Cavaliers and Texas Tech Red Raiders, you have to do so making your own assumptions about how the game is going to be played. Styles are important, and it’ll govern how I’ll approach this, for the clash that starts at 9:20 PM ET at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
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Who’s the best player on the floor on Monday night? Well, it’s a probability that Jarrett Culver is going to be the highest NBA draft pick among all these guys, and so he is going to draw a considerable amount of attention from the fans and the Virginia defense. How much can he produce in the way of points?
Here are the numbers on that:
TOTAL POINTS FOR JARRETT CULVER
Over 17.5 points -110
Under 17.5 points -110
The two defenses on these teams have one notable thing in common – they are designed to cut off dribble penetration and prevent the other side from dominating in the paint. Culver is the Big 12 player of the year, but he did not get there by cashing in from beyond the arc. He has hit just 31.6% of his three-pointers, so if Virginia succeeds with clogging the middle, it is going to disrupt his mid-range game. We’d expect the game plan will be to force him to do what he doesn’t do very well.
He has certainly been the focus of enemy defenses lately, making just eight of 31 shots in the last two games. But the thing is, Texas Tech has won despite that. And the truth of the matter is, they’ve won handily in many of the games he has not shot well. They’ve also lost some games in which he’s produced a lot of points.
But the important thing to keep in mind here is that he’s not likely to bring down the entire offense by taking a bunch of bad shots, instead being content to contribute in the other ways he’s capable of, like on the boards or by dishing the ball out. And of course, he’s there on the defensive end.
But I’m not sure he isn’t going to be the first guy Virginia looks to control. And unless he cuts a swath in this Pack Line defense by attacking the basket, he may not ring up the big numbers. UNDER
TOTAL POINTS FOR DAVIDE MORETTI
Over 10.5 points -110
Under 10.5 points -110
Culver is obviously an offensive star, and Matt Mooney, who scored 22 points against Michigan State, is someone who has carried the scoring burden for another team in Division I (albeit South Dakota).
Will we see another “Donte DiVincenzo” performance in this year’s title game?
Well, if there’s a chance, maybe it will come from a fellow “paisan,” right from the old country. Davide Moretti, an Italian import with a basketball pedigree, has consistently been this team’s best long-range shooter, making 46% of his three-point shots, and a spectacular 53.5% in the hyper-competitive Big 12. If Virginia’s Pack Line is going to allow a player to do anything, it’s take three-point shots, at least if they can do it before a member of the Cavs closes out. Moretti is the Red Raider with the most ability to exploit that. Not for nothing, but he is also a 92% free throw shooter, which is third best in the nation.
Moretti is the only player on either side in this championship game who is in the national top 30 in individual Offensive Rating, according to the analytics site KenPom.com. So really, coach Chris Beard has not problem leaning on him if he has to. He is second on the team in minutes. And his 11.4 points-per-game average is a little deceiving; he has been in double figures in 22 of his last 25 games.
And have you gotten a look at this kid’s girlfriend? Whoa! Google it.
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