In a year when the ACC’s traditional powers are down, Monday’s battle for the top spot in the standings matches Virginia against Florida State. Let’s check out their NCABB odds at the best betting sites for this match.
Virginia Cavaliers vs. Florida State Seminoles
Monday, February 15, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Donald L. Tucker Center
Two Saturdays ago, North Carolina and Duke played the first of their two annual rivalry games, which usually help decide the regular season leader in the ACC. Instead, this year, with both traditional powers falling on hard time, the big game was played for bragging rights and position on the NCAA bubble. Monday night, the real marquee matchup in the ACC takes place, when Virginia—No. 9 in the nation and the defending national champion—travels to Florida State—No. 17 in the country and the defending ACC champion.
Virginia has won four straight and 11 of 12 to move to 15-3 on the season, 11-1 in the league. The Cavaliers are coming off of a 60-48 win over North Carolina that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. UVA jumped out to a 21-4 lead and cruised to a win over the Tar Heels on Saturday. Florida State returned from its second COVID-related hiatus of the season to slip past lowly Wake Forest in overtime on Saturday. The Noles are 11-3, 7-2 in the ACC and winners of six of their last seven.
Both teams have a short turnaround from their Saturday games. That’s not much time for FSU to prepare for Virginia’s defense, or for the Cavaliers to get ready for the Seminoles’ size and depth.
Leader of the Pack Line
The day after Christmas, Virginia lost to No. 1 Gonzaga, giving up its most points in year in an embarrassing 98-75 beatdown that dropped the Cavaliers to 4-2 on the year. It seemed that Virginia was just a shell of the team that cut down the nets the last time March Madness took place, following the 2018-19 season.
Since then, things have clicked for UVA, however. Virginia has lost just once since and has found the suffocating defense that Tony Bennett’s teams are known for. Virginia hasn’t allowed any other opponent to score 70 points this season, including its current streak of 12 straight games where the Cavaliers have allowed an average of 57.5 points per outing. The last two opponents—Georgia Tech and North Carolina—have each been held below 50.
Virginia is also as ruthlessly efficient as always on offense. The Cavaliers’ three biggest regulars are also their best three-point shooters, including 7-foot-1 Jay Huff, who has hit from outside at a .473 rate. Trey Murphy, 6-foot-9, is at .487 and 6-foot-8 Sam Hauser has the most threes on the team and has a .439 accuracy. While the Cavaliers may not match the sheer number of bigs that FSU can send onto the floor, they offer a serious matchup problem on the perimeter.
Knocking Down the Three
Leonard Hamilton’s teams are known for their size and depth, and this year’s Seminoles squad is no different. The Noles go 11 deep, and six of them are 6-foot-8 or taller, including a pair of 7-foot-1 post players. The bigs aren’t three-point threats like Virginia’s are, but everyone else on the team seems to be. Four Seminoles are hitting at .430 or better from three, and FSU is among the nation’s leaders with a .387 team shooting percentage from outside.
Despite missing 14 days due to testing and tracing, the Noles didn’t lose that outside touch, torching Wake Forest for 12-of-25 from three in their return to the floor. Florida State will need to solve the puzzle that is Virginia’s defense in order to continue its hot shooting. The last two UVA opponents have hit 6-of-37 from three for a .162 rate.
Florida State’s defense could end up being its downfall. The Noles are No. 205 in the country in three-point defense and have given up 29-of-74, .392, from three over the last three games, including a 13-for-27 performance by Wake Forest last game. Virginia is No. 6 in the country in three-point accuracy, nine spots above FSU. So that could be a major matchup problem for the Noles.
On the other end of the floor, FSU has struggled with turnovers, losing the ball at a rate of 20 percent or higher in three of the last four games. While UVA doesn’t force a lot of turnovers, facing the deliberate Virginia offense and overwhelming UVA D can cause a team to rush things. So for my NCAAB pick, we're going with Florida State.
*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.