Top ATS NCAA Basketball Pick Found in Undefeated Home Favorite

Willie Bee

Thursday, December 18, 2014 1:48 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 1:48 PM UTC

The Virginia Cavaliers take aim at their first 10-0 start in 14 years when they host the Cleveland State Vikings for a college basketball odds matchup on Thursday.

For the second time this season, Cleveland State takes on a team ranked sixth in the nation. Head coach Gary Waters is hopeful his club can score more than the 33 points it did in the previous clash, though that might be wishful thinking since the Vikings will be taking on the Virginia Cavaliers and their top-ranked defense.

ESPNU will stream the broadcast from at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville beginning at 7 PM (ET). Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers are looking for their 10th consecutive win to begin the 2014-15 college basketball betting campaign, a mark that would match the school's 10-0 start to the 2000-01 season.

Current betting lines for the contest point to Virginia having a relatively easy time getting that 10th victory; sports books sent the Cavaliers out as 18½ point favorites and there was virtually no change to that spread in overnight wagering. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have a total later this morning.

The one and only time that Cleveland State and Virginia met on the hardwood proved to be an easier-than-expected triumph for the Cavaliers. Favored by 2½ at the Cancun Challenge a little more than five years ago, UVa overcame a 7-point deficit after the first 20 minutes with a huge second half for a 76-65 decision. That clash skidded past a 126 point total thanks to both sides shooting better than 50%.


Vikings' Defense Could Keep Them Inside Spread
Waters knows the odds of his crew hitting 50% of their shots tonight are extremely long. Cleveland State has managed to connect on at least half if its field goal attempts three times this season, including an 86-40 rout of Mount Vernon Nazarene on Monday, but all three matchups came against puny opponents, two of the three games not even worthy of drawing spreads from college basketball oddsmakers.

The previous 6th-ranked team the Vikings came up against was Louisville in a pre-Thanksgiving encounter. The Cardinals harassed Cleveland State up and down the court in the 45-33 victory as the Vikings could only generate 11 points in the second half. Trey Lewis, who leads Cleveland State with a 19.0 scoring average, netted a game-high 24 in that contest, but the rest of his team only found the net four times in 32 tries.

That the Vikings still managed to cover the spread in such a pathetic shooting performance is a testament to their own defense that night, along with Louisville unable to hit its shots in what turned out to be Rick Pitino's 700th victory. Cleveland State ranks in the top quarter of the nation holding foes to 61.2 PPG.


Cavs Begin 3-Game Homestand Leading Into ACC Slate
Of course, that 61.2 average is well behind Virginia's 47.4 PPG mark that leads the country. Opponents are converting just over 32% of their field goal attempts against the Cavaliers, and they're not getting many second chances with UVa in the top 20 grabbing balls off the defensive glass.

Bennett's band of ballers have been a good bunch for college basketball bettors to follow up to now, covering six of the seven lined games. The last four have all included totals, three of them going past the marks.

This is going to be a huge step up in talent for the Vikings to face, and a step down for the Cavaliers who have collided with the likes of La Salle, Rutgers, Maryland and VCU since Thanksgiving. All four of those victories came away from home, with the matchups against Maryland and VCU true road games. Virginia now gets to enjoy home life the remainder of 2014 as Harvard and Davidson come to Charlottesville the next couple of weeks before the Cavs start a tough ACC schedule.

I simply don't see Cleveland State getting out of the 40s tonight, and the low-40s look real good while Virginia manages to scrape into the 60s. I'm laying the points on the Cavaliers for my free NCAA Basketball pick.

Free NCAA Basketball pick: Virginia -18½

Season: 3-7 (-4.70)

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