Best Bets: Previewing Purdue-Virginia and Ohio State-North Carolina

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No. 7 VIRGINIA at PURDUE, 7:15 p.m.
  • SPREAD: Purdue (-2)
  • TOTAL: 102.5
  • IMPLIED SCORE: Purdue 52.25, Virginia 50.25
  • KENPOM: Purdue 50, Virginia 48
  • TICKETSClick here

I mean, I don’t even know where to start here.

The total is just laughable.


That’s lower than just about every single team total that you are going to see betting NBA games on a nightly basis.

And here is the craziest part: I am legitimately considering taking the under here.

Virginia, as you can probably imagine, ranks dead last in America in tempo. Purdue is right there with them. There are 353 teams in the Division I ranks. Purdue ranks 348th in tempo. There are going to be somewhere around 52-55 possessions in this game, which means that if each team can average one point per possession, which is not all that difficult in theory, this game is going over.

But I just don’t see a scenario where that happens.

Virginia has major issues on the offensive end of the floor – this season, they are actually what everyone that hates Virginia thinks they have been for the last half-decade. In the past they have been slow yet ruthlessly efficient offensively. This year, they are slow and bad. Virginia is shooting 25 percent from three. They aren’t drawing fouls. They don’t have anyone that can create at the end of a clock the way Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter could. They’re missing Braxton Key and Purdue is a top ten team in defensive efficiency.

Because the Boilermakers, unlike last year, are a team that is built around defense, rebounding and post play.

But the problem there is that plays directly into Virginia’s hands.

Personally, I think that this is the best defensive team that Virginia has had in the Tony Bennett era. Their staff doesn’t necessarily agree with me, but either way, the Wahoos can absolutely smother people. They have elite on-ball defenders, like Kihei Clark and Casey Morsell, on the perimeter, and Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff swallow up anything in the paint. Virginia leads the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage, block rate, defensive free throw rate (meaning they don’t foul) and rank top ten in defensive rebounding percentage. That’s bad news for a team that looks to Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms inside for offense, and who grabs 40 percent of their own misses.

This game is going to be played at a snail’s pace, both defenses matchup well with the opposing offenses and, if we’re being honest, neither team has it figured out on that end just yet.

The last time these two teams played, in last year’s Elite Eight, was one of the best college basketball games we’ve ever seen. This will not be that.

PICKS: I like the Virginia side here because I think the Wahoos are just a better team. I know Mackey is a tough place to play and I have a great deal of respect for Matt Painter, but I’m not sure this year’s group is all that good right now. I’d definitely add Virginia as part of any teaser tomorrow because four points in this game is worth a hell of a lot more than four points in a game with a higher total.

But my favorite bet is the under. I don’t know why I do things like this to myself.


  • SPREAD: North Carolina (-2.5)
  • TOTAL: 136
  • IMPLIED SCORE: North Carolina 69.25, Virginia 66.75
  • KENPOM: North Carolina 68, Ohio State 67
  • TICKETSClick here

I’ll be honest: I don’t have a great feel here. I have a lot of respect for Chris Holtmann and, straight up, I think that Ohio State is a better team that North Carolina.

They have the athletes and perimeter defenders to be able to keep Cole Anthony in check, Kaleb Wesson is one of about six players in America that absolutely will not be pushed around by Armando Bacot and they have more than enough shooting to create some problems for North Carolina’s bigger lineups. Throw in the fact that the Tar Heels are coming off of a trip to the Bahamas where they played three games in three days, including matchups with Michigan and Oregon, and there is a lot to make me lean towards the Buckeyes.

But this game is being played in Chapel Hill. It’s the first road game of the season for Ohio State. And while I might like how OSU matches up with UNC, Cole Anthony is capable of going off for 25 or 30 on any night.

PICKS: I’ll probably be on Ohio State (+2.5) here, but I’m going to hold betting it and hope that the line goes up a point or two.