February 27, 2017
There are two picks tonight.
#1: Take Virginia +4 spread against North Carolina for 3% of the bankroll.
It's not too often that the oddsmakers have listed the Virginia Cavaliers as underdogs this season and that has been for good reason. This has happened on only 4 occasions this season and they have made the oddsmakers pay by going 3-1 ATS in those matchups, winning 2 of them outright. Tonight, they'll have a chance to do it again as they host the highly ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
There is no question that the Cavaliers have taken a step back this season and are not the feared program that they had been in year's past. That being said, they are still the toughest defensive unit in the country, holding teams to just 51 points per game on their home floor this season. Where they have struggled this season has been on the offensive side of the ball, however we believe that perception has been a bit skewed. The Cavaliers haven't necessarily needed to score a ton of points this season to pull out victories and that has given them somewhat of a negative connotation that they "can't". Meanwhile, the Tar Heels are perceived to be an extremely potent offensive unit, but again, that is almost out of necessity since on the defensive end they have been giving up an average of 76 points per game this season.
In terms of actual offensive statistics, these two teams are very similar, shooting 47% from the field and 38% from deep. Where the discrepancies differ are on the defensive side of the ball where Virginia is the much more sound defensive team. Where the Tar Heels hold an advantage over their opponents have been with their ability to crash the glass and clean up their missed shots. The Tar Heels average nearly 44 boards per game and 14 on the offensive end. If Virginia is going to want to have any chance in this game they are going to need to be active on the glass and force the Tar Heels into single shot opportunities, which is something they couldn't do in the first matchup in Chapel Hill.
As mentioned, this is the final regular season meeting between these two teams and is a big-time revenge game for the Wahoos. It's not too often that Virginia loses on their home court, let alone get swept in a season. The Tar Heels could come into this game a bit overconfident given how well they have played recently and could even overlook Virginia in this contest given that they have a huge revenge matchup against Duke on Saturday. Meanwhile, Virginia has struggled in the month of February, but receive a confidence building victory on the road against NC State in their last contest. With this being their penultimate home game this season and against a big named opponent, we expect to see one of their best efforts of the season. Virginia is capable of pulling off the outright upset, but even if they don't we believe their defense will step up and keep this matchup close, meaning the points will likely come into play at the end.
#2: Take West Virginia +1 spread against Baylor for 3% of the bankroll.
The West Virginia Mountaineers crushed the Baylor Bears 89-68 in these teams’ first meeting in Morgantown earlier this season. In that matchup, the West Virginia defense was completely smothering as they forced the Bears to commit 29 combined turnovers! It's no secret that the Mountaineers leads the nation in turnover percentage but what isn't readily known is the fact Baylor is 290th in offensive turnover rate.
Why West Virginia has been so successful in forcing turnovers is the consistent pressure that they place on their opponents and force them to play at a much faster pace. Baylor's style of play is at a much slower pace (292nd in the country) so they aren't used to having to play at a much quicker pace which forces them into mistakes. If West Virginia once again controls the tempo, we wouldn't be surprised to see Baylor once again turn the ball over at an extremely high rate.
Along with the turnovers, Baylor could also have another issue working against them tonight as starting guard and normal ball handler Manu Lecomte is questionable for this contest. Lecomte injured his ankle in the second half of the Bears loss against Iowa State. Lecomte is the Bears primary ball handler and if those duties fall to a backup, the turnover rate is likely only to get larger and become more of an issue.
The Mountaineers have only lost 1 game in the last 3 weeks and that happened to be their 14-point blown lead against Kansas. Because of their defense, they are a threat both at home and on the road and Baylor had no answers for the pressure defense in the first contest. This is simply a terrible matchup for the Bears and while we expect this contest to be much closer than the first meeting, West Virginia is the better overall team and should be able to come up with a strong defensive stand in the final minutes to come away with the outright victory.
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