Top Defenses Clash in Virginia-Louisville Ranked ACC Matchup

virginia basketball

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 3:53 PM GMT

No. 12 Virginia takes on No. 6 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center on Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET), the ACC opener for each. Defense will feature with them ranking No. 1 and 2 in efficiency nationally.  

Virginia Cavaliers (10-1 SU, 6-3 ATS)

UVA enters its first ACC contest of the season yielding a paltry 47.2 points per game, fewest in the nation. Head coach Tony Bennett's squad has allowed just three teams to score more than the betting market projected all season. The defense is adept at patrolling the paint and forcing teams into inefficient shots.

The Cavaliers play at a turtle-slow pace. Their 61.6 possessions per game ranks lowest in the land. Points are spread out and Bennett rotates 10 deep in most contests. Senior guard London Perrantes is the only player averaging double digits (10.0) with points per game. The 'under' is 18-8 on NCAA basketball odds in UVA's past 26 overall.

Bennett is not afraid to point out the Wahoos' primary weakness: defensive rebounding. Seven of UVA's nine losses dating back to last season have come against opponents owning a 30 percent or higher offensive rebound rate. Louisville, long and athletic, enters this matchup ranked sixth in the nation with a 39.2 percent rate.

Louisville Cardinals (11-1 SU, 8-2 ATS)

Head coach Rick Pitino always emphasizes a tough defense, and this season's Cards look ultra resilient. They are allowing a 41.1 effective field-goal rate to begin the year and like the Wahoos have held all but two opponents below their team total.

Offensively, the team is led by point guard Quentin Snider. The junior tops the team with 11.9 points per game. Pitino will likely funnel the ball to his starting big men Deng Adel, Jaylen Johnson, and Mangok Mathiang in this one. Both Ohio State and West Virginia, the latter the only team to beat UVA this season, had success down low vs. U of L. But the Cards are 10-3-1 ATS on NCAA basketball picks in their past 14 as a favorite.

Final Analysis

Louisville and Virginia rank No. 1 and No. 2 in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency. Since the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014, the combined score has yet to eclipse 116 points in this series. Pitino has Louisville playing quicker this year and promised to push the pace against the Cavs. Whether his team executes or not offensively is to be determined, but the low total plus the game plan is enough to shy many bettors away from the over-under.

Still, lean the 'under' 120 in this one. Whichever team reaches 60 points will likely claim victory. Since the shot clock change, the 'under' is 5-2 when Louisville tips off with a game total less than 130 points. The Cards' ODU victory this season, played at a game total of 125, eclipsed the total only thanks to overtime.

UVA, though only underdogs once in the last four matchups, has not lost by more than a bucket in any vs. the Cards. Bennett may have a more talented team on his hands this season, and an outright upset is not off the table. We'll take the 3.5 points being dangled at sportsbooks like BetDSI to play it safe.

NCAAB Free Picks: UVA +3.5 & 'Under' 120

Best Line Offered: BetDSI

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