Virginia will be playing without the services of one of its leading scorers for the next month, but its perfect road record still makes it a top college basketball pick against NC State.
Justin Anderson had a game-high 16 points and matched a career high with nine rebounds in a 61-51 victory over NC State as 14.5-point home favorite in NCAA Basketball odds in the first meeting on Jan. 7, but Virginia watched one of its top perimeter weapons suffer a broken finger last time out.
Anderson’s loss will be felt on the offensive end until his potential return in four-to-six weeks for either the ACC or NCAA Tournament, which is important to consider when making your NCAA Basketball picks, but head coach Tony Bennett expects Evan Nolte and Marial Shayok to fill the void.
Shayok could receive a bulk of the minutes due to his 40 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc, but he’ll still find it hard to replace the conference’s top 3-point shooter in terms of percentage.
The Cavaliers are still capable of improving to 3-0 SUATS as road favorites of 6.5 to 9 points since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, as they have the ability to suffocate opponents with the nation’s top scoring defense.
The Time Is Now
NC State has been incredibly inconsistent since picking up its biggest win of the season over Duke on Jan. 11, as it has shot just 41.7 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the line over its last five contests.
The Wolfpack have certainly been challenged this season by playing the nation’s ninth-toughest schedule, with nine of their 10 losses coming to teams in the top 75 of the RPI rankings.
It’s going to be difficult for the program to turn things around in this spot, as tonight’s opponent occupies the No. 3 spot behind only the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats in that particular metric.
The Cavaliers have won all 10 of their games away from Charlottesville this season, while they’ve compiled a 12-2 SU record in ACC road games over the past two seasons.
One of those conference road victories was a 76-45 blowout win over NC State as three-point favorites last year, with the 31-point margin of victory being the second-highest on the road during the Bennett era.
The Wolfpack will need a major performance from their talented trio of starting guards, as Cat Barber, Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner average a combined 41.2 points per game.
Lacey and Turner managed to knock down 7-of-13 3-point shots in the first meeting—a surprising figure due to the Cavaliers sitting behind just 24 teams in terms of defensive 3-point field goal percentage.
NC State needs to find some inside scoring opportunities the second time around, as Virginia has limited its last five opponents to 25.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
The Wolfpack have struggled to score against top defensive teams this year—demonstrated by their 5-8 SU and 4-5 ATS mark versus foes that surrender 64 or fewer points per game.
Virginia will earn its eighth consecutive point spread victory when playing in Raleigh Wednesday night.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia Cavaliers -7.5 at YouWager