Virginia has one of the best coaches in college basketball, and that matters in such an unprecedented season. It’s why they are favored heavily against Notre Dame. What is the best pick, and which is the best sportsbook?
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Wednesday, January 13, 2020 – 4:30 PM EST at John Paul Jones Arena
When you think of the Virginia Cavaliers, your first thought is veteran experience with older teams. The same can be said about this current roster. Their top four scorers are all juniors or seniors, and that group has led the way to a 7-2 record.
Sam Hauser had led this team on both sides of the floor. He leads in both scoring and rebounds, and his role has increased as the season has progressed. Virginia will face off against Notre Dame today, and they have a history already. These teams played against each other earlier this year, and the Cavaliers won on the road.
The Fighting Irish have struggled this year in the ACC, but they will be looking to right the ship against Virginia. If they want to do that, they will do so as the clear underdogs. Virginia opened as a double-digit favorite at home. Before we make an NCAAB pick, let’s take a look at each team.
Keys for Virginia to Cover
Virginia has seen a strange turn of events this year. In non-conference games, they were one of the best offenses in college basketball. They also struggled severely on defense in those 6 games. In conference play, they’ve held teams to a conference-best 55.7 points a game. That is more of the Virginia team that we have grown accustomed to in the Tony Bennett era.
This team shoots plenty of threes, but they aren’t that efficient from behind the arc. They either need to do a better job at scheming open shots or stop settling for threes. Instead, they should use their size inside to dominate in the paint.
In their last game against Notre Dame, Virginia only shot 8 free throws. They made half of them, which is uncharacteristic of this team. They have to attack more just to get to the line. Once they are there, they should be able to knock down free throws at home. One of the reasons they shoot so few free throws is their slow pace, but they still have to attack and hope for the best.
Keys for Notre Dame to Cover
The Notre Dame offense has been abysmal all season. They struggle in every metric. They turn the ball over too often, and it hurts their shooting statistics. Even when they get shots up, they are often settling for bad looks.
Virginia’s defensive style thrives on packing the lane and forcing bad shots on the perimeter. With how bad Notre Dame shoots inside, they will need to rely on perimeter shooting. They aren’t much better from deep, but at least they can get decent looks and hope for the best. If you’re not good enough to sustain success inside, take a risk with the explosive plays behind the arc.
Notre Dame doesn’t have size inside, but their guards have plenty of length. That will matter against Virginia. Starting guard Kihei Clark is listed at 5’9”. They need to take advantage of the size difference. It is hard for Clark to contest, so he is where you want to attack when you are looking for a perimeter shot.
Nate Laszewski kept this game close last time, but someone has to step up alongside him. Practically all of their production came from him and Juwan Durham in their last game against the Cavaliers. They can be a focal point, but you have to have more production as a whole team.
Time for a Pick
I think that it is safe to assume that Notre Dame will get more production in this game, but the size difference scares me. Notre Dame hasn’t done anything for me to think that they can keep this game close. The only reason Notre Dame might cover the spread is that both teams tend to play low-scoring games. Still, I don’t see Notre Dame keeping up with Virginia for 40 minutes. By the end of this game, the Cavaliers will have a firm grasp on this game, and that’s why I think that they will cover the spread.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.