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Virginia Tech vs. Florida: NCAA Tournament First Round Picks

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Virginia Tech vs. Florida: NCAA Tournament First Round Picks
Tre Mann #1 of the Florida Gators on March 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images/AFP

The NCAAB lines are tight for Friday’s first-round matchup between the No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies and the No. 7 Florida Gators.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida Gators

Friday, March 19, 2021 – 12:15 PM ET at Hinkle Fieldhouse

Welcome back to the ranch – and welcome to March Madness. If this is your first time with us, here’s the plan: We make our free NCAAB picks by using Ken Pomeroy’s free advanced stats to project each matchup, then we compare that projection to the college basketball lines here at SBR. If there’s at least a two-point gap between the two, that’s worth a proper bet; anything less is only worth a fun-sized wager, but those can also be useful for your betting portfolio.

We can already tell that fun-sized will be the right approach for Friday’s first-round game between the No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies and the No. 7 Florida Gators. This isn’t one of those tasty matchups where you have a motivated low-conference champion facing a disinterested at-large team from the Big Six. It’s anyone’s game to win, or to cover. But let’s test our hypothesis with a little math. You know, just in case we’re missing something.

That’s Numberwang

Yes, there will be math. It’s simple arithmetic, though – Pomeroy has already done most of the heavy lifting for us. You could even buy his actual projections if you’re so inclined. Anyway, here’s the skinny:

  • Virginia Tech: No. 50 overall (No. 55 offense, No. 54 defense), plus-16.65 margin
  • Florida: No. 37 overall (No. 40 offense, No. 37 defense), plus-18.98 margin

According to these efficiency margins, the Gators are 2.33 points better per 100 possessions than the Hokies. How many possessions will they get? Probably somewhere between 66 and 69, barring overtime. Virginia Tech are at the lower end of that spectrum in terms of pace, running a low-turnover, perimeter-heavy offense under second-year head coach Mike Young. Let’s split the difference and call it 67.5 possessions. Multiply 2.33 points by 67.5 percent, and you get close to Florida –1.5 as a projection. Remember, there’s no home-court advantage in this matchup.

And now, the college basketball odds: Florida opened as 1-point favorites at Intertops. Just as we suspected – not a lot of wiggle room between the projections and the odds. However, the Gators could be worth a slight lean, especially if you get them as a pick’em at Heritage Sports, who also have a –108 deal on juice. Shop smart.

March Madness

Gator Roll

Plan B with these tight NCAAB spreads is to look at the total. Again, though, there isn’t much betting value on the table. These are two well-balanced teams when it comes to offense vs. defense, and go figure, Virginia Tech have the Over at 11-9, while Florida have the Under at 11-9-1. No sale.

In the end, we’re going to recommend a small bet on the Gators – but not before checking the newswires to see what’s happening on the ground. COVID-19 has thrown the Hokies for a loop: they went into the ACC Tournament after a 12-day layoff, their second mandated coronavirus pause of the season. Then they lost 81-73 to North Carolina as 4-point underdogs. Florida’s second pause of the year ended in mid-February, so they should have better flow to their game on Friday. As it turns out, the early consensus reports show 100-percent support for the Gators. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

NCAAB Pick: Florida +1 (–108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Florida +1(-108)
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*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.