Add Virginia +2 To Your NCAA Basketball Picks vs. Duke

Jason Lake

Saturday, February 13, 2016 12:20 AM GMT

The Virginia Cavaliers have played just about as well as the Duke Blue Devils this year. Will that translate to success for Virginia against Saturday's NCAA Basketball odds?

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia +2
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 12: 3-3 ATS, 1-1 Totals

Who's the best team in the ACC this year? There are five excellent programs who could lay claim to that, and we'll see two of them in action this Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) when the Duke Blue Devils host the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers. Duke, of course, is the reigning Division I champion, but things haven't gone according to plan down in Durham. Yet the NCAA Basketball odds at press time have the Blue Devils as 2.5-point home faves, up from –2 at the open.

 

Movin' On Down
It's not unusual to see Duke (18-6 SU, 11-11-1 ATS) carrying a bit too much chalk around. And it's also par for the course to have Virginia (20-4 SU, 10-12 ATS) as the overlooked team among the ACC elite. The Cavs are 2-3 SU and 4-1 ATS versus the Blue Devils in their past five meetings. It's not a difficult choice to make in general.

But what about this game in particular? Duke's title defense started going pear-shaped in mid-December, when senior forward Amile Jefferson (26.0 PER, +10.7 BPM) broke his right foot after just nine games. The Blue Devils are 10-5 SU and 8-6-1 ATS since Jefferson went down, which looks okay on paper, but they've gone 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS since hitting the meat of the ACC schedule.

Otherwise, Duke might be worth a look in this situation. Ken Pomeroy has this program ranked No. 12 in efficiency (No. 2 offense, No. 121 defense), still well behind No. 2 Virginia (No. 11 offense, No. 10 defense), but hardly a disaster despite that break-even record in conference play. Sports-Reference actually has the Devils (21.5 SRS) ahead of the Cavs (20.6 SRS) on the Simple Rating System; however, that includes the nine games Jefferson played.

 

Pale Shelter
If Duke does end up losing to Virginia on Saturday, then we might have to start thinking about putting the Blue Devils in our NCAA Basketball picks here at the home office. People love to hate Duke, and they express themselves with their wallets and/or purses a little too heavily when things are going bad for Mike Krzyzewski and his boys. Why? Racism, in part. Just ask Christian Laettner. Or JJ Redick. Or Grayson Allen.

The last time the Blue Devils had a really “bad” year was 2006-07, when they lost 11 games and didn't even finish in the AP Top 25. Starting February 14, Duke went 4-2 SU and ATS to wrap up the regular season. Good thing Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this time. We'll stick with the Cavs for now, but only for a very small wager. It's not like there's a massive difference in quality between these two ACC titans.