Add Syracuse +8 To Your NCAA Tournament Picks In Low-Scoring Game vs. Virginia

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 26, 2016 7:21 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 26, 2016 7:21 PM UTC

The ACC will own the NCAA Basketball world Sunday as the two Elite Eight games feature teams solely from that conference. In the first one, No. 10 Syracuse faces No. 1 Virginia in Chicago. UVA is -8 in Heritage's NCAA Basketball odds with a total of 123.5 points.

Orange Getting Last Laugh
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is one of the best coaches of all-time in college basketball, no question. But man is he a smug dude. And that smugness is so evident now that his Orange are in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2013 after barely sneaking into the field of 68 -- remember, the school self-imposed a postseason ban last season and didn't play in the NCAA Tournament. I'm not sure how Boeheim can be smug since his program committed major NCAA violations and he was suspended nine games earlier this season. But, hey, whatever works to motivate his team and every NCAA Tournament needs a "villain" team. SU is this year's.

The Orange were 4-point underdogs on Friday against No. 11 Gonzaga with a total of 134.5. I'll admit I liked Gonzaga there but did recommend the 'under' and that hit in a 63-60 Syracuse win. Was SU the better team? I don't think so. The Zags led by nine with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the game but didn't score in the final 1:54. Star Michael Gbinije put Syracuse ahead by a point on a layup with 22 seconds left. The Zags' attempt to win at the other end resulted in a blocked shot by SU freshman Tyler Lydon. Not only that, he was able to grab his own block and made two free throws after being fouled. He had six blocks for the second straight game. Lydon's emergence has been the biggest reason why this team is in the Elite Eight.

Syracuse's excellent defense was on display vs. Gonzaga as it limited the Bulldogs to 43 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. SU shot just 36.1 percent from the field and had a scant nine assists. The Orange had won only two games this season when shooting that poorly or worse. They had won just three games when scoring 63 points or fewer. The Orange had two games this season with fewer assists and lost both.

SU, which hasn't played a seed better than No. 7 in this tournament, is 19-15 against the spread this season on NCAA Tournament odds and 17-17 'over/under.'


Cavaliers Finally Back In Regional Final
If form had held, Virginia would be facing No. 2 Michigan State in the regional final on Sunday. Sparty had knocked UVA out of the past two  NCAA Tournaments and certainly would have had a major fan advantage in Chicago. But MSU lost in the first round, which really opened the Midwest Region up for the top-seeded Cavs.

Virginia (29-7) was a 6-point favorite on Friday against No. 4 Iowa State and I recommended giving the points -- the Wahoos won 84-71 to reach the Elite Eight for the first time in 21 years. They haven't been to the Final Four since 1984. Anthony Gill finished with a season-high 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting to lead the way. ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon was a bit off, going 4-for-13 for 12 points. Senior center Mike Tobey, who averages only 7.3 points this season, added 18 off the bench. UVA's stellar defense allowed ISU, one of the nation's top offenses, to shoot 51.9 percent. But Virginia hit 56.1 percent. Brogdon was also the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and surely will draw the assignment on Gbinjie, SU's leading scorer.

The Cavs are +400 at BetOnline to win the national title with the field at -600. That the NCAA champion comes from the Midwest Region is +325. The winner here faces either No. 1 North Carolina or No. 7 Notre Dame in an all-ACC Final Four matchup next Saturday in Houston. I expect that to be UNC. Virginia is 19-14-1 ATS on NCAA Tournament picks this season and 14-20 O/U.


First Meeting
These teams played on Jan. 24 in Charlottesville when Virginia was ranked No. 13. The Cavs were 10-point favorites at sportsbooks with a total of 125.5 and won 73-65.  Brogdon had 21 points, 12 of them coming in the final 5;45 of the game. Gill and London Perrantes added 16 points each for the Cavaliers, who did blow a 10-point second-half lead as SU tied it with about eight minutes left. Gbinije led Syracuse with 24 points and freshman Malachi Richardson added 23. SU isn't the best 3-point shooting team in the world but was 13-for-30 that day. Gbinije was 5-for-9. SU shot just 38.9 percent overall, however, while UVA hit 56.8 percent from the field.


Betting Analysis
Syracuse is 0-3 against Virginia since Tony Bennett took over at UVA. The average margin of victory has been 13 points. But I'm taking the points here. Virginia will win but isn't good enough offensively to really blow teams out, and SU is good enough defensively to stay close enough. Go 'under' the total. UVA is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. the ACC. The 'under' is 4-0 in Syracuse's past four NCAA Tournament games. The 'under' is  11-2 in Virginia's past 13 vs. the ACC. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse +8 & Under 123.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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