NCAA Basketball Picks: Take Home Favs Virginia Tech To Cover When Hosting Wake Forest

Willie Bee

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 11:34 AM GMT

For our selection of NCAA basketball picks, we find two-thirds of the ACC in action, including a battle of teams in the middle of the pack as Wake Forest pays a visit to Virginia Tech.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia Tech -1
Best Line Offered: at The Greek

 

Can either the Wake Forest Demon Deacons or Virginia Tech Hokies make any noise in the Atlantic Coast Conference? I seriously doubt it, though my opinion doesn't mean their Hump Day collision over in the Iron City isn't worth watching.

Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg is the place to be unless you plan on streaming this 9 PM (ET) matchup on ESPN. The game went out as a pick 'em before overnight action swung it to the Hokies -1 at every shop listed on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds board. Bookmaker is showing 147½ for the total.

Virginia Tech's win in the opening round of last year's ACC Tournament left this series dead-level at 30 wins apiece. Wednesday's victor will take the lead at least until the teams meet again at Wake Forest on February 28, the first time since 2012-13 the schools have met twice on the regular season slate.

Despite the series being even, it has run in streaks for both sides as well on the NCAA basketball odds. The Demon Deacons had won three in a row before the Hokies scored the mild upset last March. Virginia Tech ran off five consecutive wins from 2008-2011. The last four in the rivalry have gone past the total while the previous three stayed 'under' the mark. Going back to 2007, nine of 12 have been winners for 'over' bettors.

 

Deacons Continue Tough Schedule
We might look back at the end of the season and say Wake Forest (10-5 straight up, 5-7-1 ATS) played as tough a schedule as any other team. The Demon Deacons played then-ranked Indiana and Vanderbilt teams plus UCLA in the Maui Classic, and had a 4-game stretch recently against Xavier, LSU, Louisville and Duke, only the Tigers outside the top 20 among that quartet. Danny Manning's outfit has another difficult string in a couple of weeks at North Carolina and Miami plus Virginia at home.

The Deacons rebounded from a whipping at the hands of the Blue Devils last week with a 77-74 victory over North Carolina State this past Sunday, their first in conference play. The final pushed a 3 point spread and marked the second consecutive over for Wake Forest after 3-straight 'overs.'

Devin Thomas is the big man inside the Hokies have to control. The senior forward leads the team with a 16.9 PPG scoring average plus 10.3 rebounds a night, and is shooting over 58% from the field. Thomas won't get too far from the bucket, however, having never even attempted a 3-pointer in his four years at Wake, so Virginia Tech has to figure out how to push him outside his comfort zone.

 

Inconsistency Plaguing Hokies
Virginia Tech (10-6 SU, 4-6 ATS) also laid an egg against Duke, a game in which the Hokies trailed by the 17 point spread less than eight minutes into the contest. The 82-58 final had plenty of room to spare below the 157 point total, and perhaps the biggest embarrassment of all for Va Tech was allowing Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee score a career-high 21, nearly half of those from the charity stripe.

That implosion came just days after an outstanding performance in a 70-68 upset at then-No. 4 Virginia that gave the Hokies two wins to begin the ACC fixture. No doubt, Buzz Williams would sell his soul for some consistency out of his club, especially in the intensity column on defense. Williams also wouldn't mind having guard Chris Clarke back for some extra backcourt depth, but the freshman remains out with a leg injury. Not only was Clarke fourth on the team with 10.5 PPG when he went out, he's still on top in the steals/game column.

I expected Virginia Tech to be a bigger favorite, and despite their inconsistency, I will gladly take them at -1 for my free NCAA basketball pick.

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