It feels good to get back into the swing of things after basically taking the month of December off for a little “me time”. Holidays are a difficult time to both A) Stay productive and B) Stay sober enough to write.
The ACC has been off since a loaded Saturday slate but returns to action on Tuesday night with a trio of games, two of which are intriguing. I want to take a quick look at each game and give you my thoughts at picks. Here we go
Miami (Fl) at Louisville- 7:00 PM ESPN2
Line: Louisville (-13) Total: 145.5 Kenpom: 78-64 Louisville Haslam: 77-61 Louisville
While it seems a little premature for a rematch this is exactly what this game is. Louisville pasted Miami on opening night in Coral Gables 87-74 in a game that wasn’t that close. That performance is actually the Cardinal’s best performance of the season according to Erik Haslam and is coming off of a their worst performance of the season Saturday at home against an up and coming Florida State team.
Miami is fresh off a beat down at the hands of Duke, who may be the best team in the nation. Junior point guard Chris Lykes continue to put up career numbers across the board in efficiency but a lack of a quality big man is really hurting the ‘Canes and they just don’t play well defensively, ranking 222nd in adjusted defensive efficiency and are surrendering 0.88 points per defensive possession, which falls in the 23rd percentile.
Pick: This is a get right game for Louisville after a real stinker in the second half against the ‘Noles. Expect Dwayne Sutton and Ryan McMahon to come out with fires in their belly. Louisville to cover, take the under as the Cardinals buckle down on defense.
Virginia at Boston College – 7:00 PM ACCN
Line: Virginia (-8.5) Total: 112.5 Kenpom: 58-51 Virginia Haslam: 58-44 Virginia
This could be one of the ugliest games we see all season. Boston College doesn’t have a player who has an advantage offensively in this game and Virginia just can’t score consistently or efficiently. To boot, the Eagles aren’t that bad on the defensive end, surrendering just 0.77 points per possession against half court sets.
I have yet to see if Nik Popovic is going to play in this game. Pop is out with a back issue and hasn’t played since December 3rd. Watching Popovic to go head to head with Mamadi Diakite would be the only reason to tune into this game.
Pick: Take Virginia to cover and the under. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this total under 100.
Virginia Tech at Syracuse – 9:00 PM ACCN
Line: Syracuse (-4.5) Total: 136 Kenpom: 70-66 Syracuse Haslam: 71-70 Syracuse
I liked what I saw this past weekend from the Orange, while Virginia Tech is starting to trend in the direction I anticipated. The Hokies are 4-4 in their last 8 games following the Michigan State victory. All four losse have come against teams inside the Kenpom top 32, while all four victories have come against teams ranked 197th or worse.
Syracuse has an offensive leader in Elijah Hughes while Buddy Boeheim has really come into his own this season. What I really want to see tonight is if Joe Girard III continues to play how he did in the second half of the Notre Dame game when he played with a real chip on his shoulder.
Pick: Syracuse should absolutely murder VPI on the glass in this one, but rebounding out of the zone is always tricky. The Hokies three-point shooting should keep them in it, but the Orange will win straight up. I’ll take VPI to cover however, since Syracuse is 4-10 ATS on the season and 0-5 in their last five games. Play the over.