NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh vs. Virginia ACC Semi-final

Willie Bee

Saturday, March 15, 2014 12:27 PM GMT

For the Virginia Cavaliers, it was the first 10 minutes of the second half that ultimately did in FloridaState in the ACC quarterfinals on Friday. The Pittsburgh Panthers, meanwhile, used a 19-2 run during a 6-minute span in the first half to send North Carolina home earlier than expected.

Now we get to see who can simply have the better 40 minutes Saturday when the ACC Tournament continues with a pair of semifinal contests. Virginia and Pitt will get the ball rolling with a 1 PM (ET) tip that can be seen on ESPN. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds is listing the Cavs -3 with 121 for the total.

This clash between No. 1 and No. 5 seeds is a rematch from a little more than a month ago when the teams met in Pittsburgh on Super Bowl Sunday. Malcolm Brogdon's 3-pointer in the final second gave Virginia a 48-45 win in a game Pittsburgh was favored by 4.5. The final score was a distant 30 points from the total.

That game was the first hardwood meeting between the two in 24 years, and first-ever as conference foes. The Cavaliers have won the last four get-togethers for an 8-3 all-time edge in the series.

Compare the top NCAA Basketball Tournamet Odds

Panthers Withstand Late UNC Rally

Pittsburgh (25-8 straight up, 12-16-2 against the spread) started its first season in the ACC as 10/1 choices on the NCAA basketball futures odds to win the conference crown. That was good enough for sixth on the list, so it has definitely been a great rookie year in their new conference for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers.

But will a third game in as many days be too much to ask, especially given the manner the Panthers barely hung on in Friday's win over the Tar Heels after building a big lead?

Pitt had no trouble brushing aside Wake Forest on Thursday, allowing Dixon to give a little rest to his front-liners. That rotation was much shorter Friday vs. UNC. Talib Zanna was a monster for the Panthers with 19 points and 21 boards, 10 of those on the offensive end. Pittsburgh left 20 points at the free throw line, however, and that's a concern against a Cavaliers defense that is among the very best in the land.

Cavs Reach ACC Semis For 1st Time Since 1995

Tony Bennett and Virginia (26-6 SU, 18-10 ATS) have stopped one streak at 19 years with an appearance in the conference semis for the first time since 1995. The Cavaliers would now like to finish this off with another streak-breaker and win their first ACC Tournament title since America's Bicentennial.

If you saw them beat Florida State 64-51 on Friday, you know it wasn't necessarily an easy win, but more of a workmanlike effort. Virginia pretty easily covered the -8.5 spread thanks to another strong defensive performance and Joe Harris' 20 points. The senior guard hit a couple of 3-pointers midway through the second half put the kibosh on any hopes the Seminoles had of an upset, and Anthony Gill came off the bench to add 16 points.

The contest finished short of a 123.5 total after the Cavaliers finished regular season with two straight 'over' winners. Pitt's 80-75 victory vs. North Carolina in the quarters easily went past a 138.5 total, giving 'over' bettors 5-straight wins with the Panthers.

Virginia should be small chalk for this game after the season it has enjoyed to this point, but I'm inclined to take Pitt and the points. I'm even more tempted to play the high side of the total, and that's exactly what I'm going to do with my free NCAA basketball pick in this ACC semifinal matchup.

My pick: Virginia-Pittsburgh Over 121

Season: 55-41-1 (+9.9)

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