NCAAB Odds: Top-10 Team Virginia (-12) Will Handle Rebuilding Iowa

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, November 25, 2016 6:53 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 6:53 PM UTC

No. 7 Virginia, from the upper echelon of the ACC, meets a middle-rung Big Ten team in Iowa in a first-round meeting of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla., on Friday night. The Wahoos are -12 on college basketball odds. 

Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1)

Iowa is a 22-11 SU team from last season that lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to eventual champion Villanova by a score of 87-68.  Last year’s Iowa team with returning starters had immense potential.  Following an early February win vs. Illinois, the team stood 19-4 SU, 13-7 ATS on college basketball odds -- including 10-1 SU, 8-3 ATS in Big 10 play.  But the wheels clearly fell off as the Hawkeyes finished 3-7 SU, 1-9 ATS before the merciful end.

This year, respected coach Fran McCaffrey, now in his 7th year at Iowa City, must rebuild the pieces with only a single returning starter in senior shooting guard Peter Jok. It will be a tough job to replace four seniors who led Iowa to their 4th consecutive 20-win season.  Gone are familiar names like Woodbury, Gesell and Clemmons.  

To say this is a rebuilding year is a major understatement.  There are only 2 juniors and one senior on the roster.  The holdovers were simply role players last year.  Iowa looks as if it will struggle to maintain its normal spot of the upper echelon of the Big Ten.  The Hawkeyes have opened with 4 home games, easily dispatching Kennesaw, Savannah and Rio Grande, but in their lone step-up game vs. quality foe Seton Hall, they were dispatched 91-83 by the Pirates. That's a bad omen entering this one against an even better foe.

 No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers (4-0)

Under eighth-year coach Tony Bennett, Virginia has crafted 89 victories in the previous 3 seasons.  Last year, the Wahoos made it all the way to the Elite 8 before a 68-62 loss to Syracuse.  Three starters return from that team, but UVA will miss its best player from last season, Malcolm Brogdon, along with power forward Anthony Gill.  Bennett also dismissed a major contributor, Austin Nichols, in the early going of this year.

Through it all, Bennett’s pack-line defense, designed to choke off the paint and then extend to the arc, controls Virginia's games. This season, Virginia is allowing a mind-blowing 39 PPG, including 38 PPG to a very high-scoring Yale team.  There is little doubt in my mind that the Virginia defense will choke off the full-court preferences of this Iowa team and dominate in the half court.  A comfortable double-digit victory on college basketball picks appears imminent. 

NCAAB Free Pick: Virginia -12Best Line Offered: BookMaker

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