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February 15th 2014 - Posted 11:00 AM Eastern Time

There are two bets risking 4% today.

#1: Take Clemson at +4.5 spread against Virginia risking 2%

In today's match-up we have a red hot #17 ranked Virginia Cavaliers team traveling to hostile Little John Coliseum to take on the Clemson Tigers. There is no question that there has been a lot of talk surrounding the Cavaliers this season. They are ranked #17 in the country, are 11-1 in conference play this season and have won 8 straight games coming into this contest. To see them open up at -4 favorites against an offensively challenged Clemson team seems a little too good to be true.

Looking at these two teams side by side, one would see that Virginia has won 8 straight games and have been tearing through conference opponents recently, while the Clemson Tigers have lost 2 straight and 4 of their last 6. While that may true, what some fail to realize is that Clemson has been playing a majority of their games on the road. At Little John Coliseum however, this a completely different Tigers team. 

What Clemson has lacked in offense, they have surely made up for on the defensive end. Clemson ranks #1 in the country in points allowed at home as they are holding teams to just 48 points on 33.8 percent shooting including an impressive 19.7% from 3-point range! They are 10-1 on their home floor this season. What is more impressive than their 10-1 record at home is the fact that those 10 wins have come by an average of 16 points, including a 72-59 beatdown of a ranked Duke Blue Devils team back on Jan 11th where once again Clemson was a home underdog.

Virginia has been known as one of the better rebounding teams in the country, however today they may be in for a fight on the boards as Clemson has statistically been a better rebounding team than the Cavaliers. Clemson owns a +8 rebounding margin over their opponents at home which includes grabbing an average of 11 offensive boards per game. Virginia has used their rebounding advantage in a number of victories this season, so it will be interesting to see how they perform if a team can actually challenge them on the glass.

It's also worth noting that Virginia has not had a lot of success in the past at Little John Coliseum. In fact the Cavaliers have lost their last 4 visits here and those losses have not been close. Virginia has lost by an average of 16 points per game on this floor. Their last win was a buzzer beating shot in a 64-63 victory back in 2007. Even Clemson coach Brad Brownell has acknowledged the fact that both he and his team have struggled when traveling to Clemson, so they will have that added pressure in the back of their minds which could affect their performance this afternoon. 

The linemakers opened the total for this game at an incredibly low103 points, which has since been "bet up" to 109 in some places. That is a very telling number as Vegas is predicting this to be a low scoring, defensive minded ball game and we agree. Defense has helped carry both of these teams for much of the season. If you are a fan of offense, this is more than likely not the game for you as we are not expecting to see many explosive plays on the offensive side, nor do we expect either team to extend a lead. This will more than likely be a slow tempo, hard nosed, defensive battle with a lot of missed shots between both teams, with points coming at a premium. If that turns out to be the case, then we believe the points will come into play. Clemson is one of many teams in the conference who needs a marquee win in order to bolster their tournament resume. After dropping their last 2 games on the road, this is the perfect opportunity for the Tigers to impress the committee. 

Clemson has shown its ability to step up for these kind of big games like they rose to the occasion against Duke in what many felt was an "upset". The Tigers play incredibly tough at home and we wouldn't be surprised if they scored a close outright win. Either way, in what should be a back and forth low scoring game, we feel the points may come into play and it's best to take them. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Virginia is just 1-5 in their last 6 trips to Clemson.
  • Clemson is a top 5 team in defensive FG% defense and has held opponents to just 33.8% at home!
  • The home team is 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings between these two teams!
  • Clemson is 6-0 ATS in their last six Saturday games.

#2: Take Kentucky at -2 spread against Florida risking 2%

This will no doubt be the marquee game of the night as the #3 Florida Gators travel to hostile Rupp Arena to take on the #14 Kentucky Wildcats on national TV in what should be an exciting game to watch. The Gators have been tearing through the SEC this season and come into this game with a perfect 11-0 record in conference play. A win today will more than likely cement them as the SEC regular season champions but they have a tough task ahead of them facing the Wildcats on their home floor as Rupp Arena has always been among the toughest places for visiting teams to get a win. At home the Wildcats are a very well oiled machine.
They score an average of 83 ppg while limiting opponents to just 62! Kentucky holds a number of records for consecutive home victories and under coach John Calipari, they have only been defeated twice at Rupp Arena in the last 4 seasons including victories over Florida in their last 4 visits!

These two teams couldn't be any more different. Florida is a veteran team that has 4 senior in their starting rotation. They have experience, something that Kentucky does not. The Wildcats are a team that typically has a quick turnaround in talent due to their ability to recruit the nations best players. Kentucky is big, they are fast and they have talent, but they are young. Kentucky also plays a different style of basketball than Florida. Kentucky is a bruising team and likes to play in the paint and leads the conference in points in the paint per game. They have become methodical at being able to draw contact down low and have made their living on the free throw line this season, averaging 31 attempts per game. The Wildcats also lead the conference in field goal percentage hitting the mark of 48% of their shots from the field. Kentucky is also one of the best rebounding teams in the country with a +10 rebounding margin over their opponents. Kentucky typically averages 17 second chance points per game which leads the major conference this season. Those points could prove to be extremely valuable in their matchup today. 

Kentucky isn't listed as single digit home favorites often, but when they have, they've been kind to their backers going 10-2 ATS dating back to 1997!
Had this game been played earlier in the season when Kentucky was just starting to form their chemistry together, this game may have played out differently, but Kentucky is a team that is clicking on all cylinders at the moment and being back home should give them the added boost to blemish Florida's undefeated conference record. The Gator have at times struggled on the road in some less than convincing victories and tonight they have to travel to arguably the toughest place to win in all of college basketball. In what should be a close game, we expect the home team to come away with the win and cover. There is a reason Florida who is ranked #3 in the country and undefeated in SEC play is an underdog here. We believe Kentucky will hand them their first loss and cover the spread in the process. Lay the 2 points.

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