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ACC action here as the Virginia Tech Hokies host the Syracuse Orange. Neither team is as good as they often are, but they have both still been very solid this year. Syracuse enters at 10-7, while Virginia Tech sits at 13-4. Oddsmakers have the Hokies as a modest favorite for this one, which will be streamed by the ACC Network.
Syracuse Still SolidSyracuse has been a consistent winner in recent years, and even though they underwent a lot of change this offseason they have still managed to produce solid results. Head coach Jim Boeheim deserves a lot of credit, because after they lost guys like Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, and O'Shae Brissett, he really had to retool the roster. Junior forward Elijah Hughes has stepped up his game big time, and he is looking like one of the best players in the conference. He's averaging 19.5 points per game while shooting 40 percent from three. This is actually the best shooting team that Syracuse has had in years, as they are connecting on 37 percent of their attempts from downtown as a team.
THE BANK WAS OPEN FOR BUDDY BOEHEIM 😮 pic.twitter.com/wifi69Mk3i— ESPN (@espn) January 11, 2020
Freshman guard Joseph Girard is playing a large role in his first season of college basketball and is averaging 12.4 points per game. Syracuse is once again playing their pesky zone defense that can often throw off opponents, but it has actually been their offense that has been the better unit so far this year. After averaging 6.8 points per game last year, sophomore wing Buddy Boeheim is averaging 15.6 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from deep. Syracuse likes to slow the pace down and settle into their half-court offense, and so far it has been working. They do have seven losses, but for the most part, they've been to very good teams. They are 5-2 in their last seven games, and those two losses both came by four points or fewer. They just beat Virginia on the road two games ago, and they are 9-4-1 against the spread in their last 14 road games.
VT Loses Buzz WilliamsSpeaking of teams that had a lot of turnover this offseason, Virginia Tech certainly qualifies. The Hokies have had a lot of success in recent years, making the NCAA tournament in each of the past three seasons. Head coach Buzz Williams left to take the job at Texas A&M though, leaving the program in a state of uncertainty. Williams wasn't the only loss they had to endure, as they also saw a mass exodus of talent. Each of their top five scorers from last season left, and they didn't return a single guy who averaged more than 4.7 points per game last year. That's an absurd amount of offensive production to replace, and they are also having to do it with a new coach at the helm.
All things considered, they've done a pretty good job of weathering the storm, and they enter this one at 13-4. That being said, it hasn't all been positive. It's not like they've played the most difficult schedule, and their losses have all been ugly. In fact, each of their four defeats came by at least 13 points, and two were by at least 25. Freshman wing Landers Nolley has done a great job leading the squad and looks like a star in the making, but he hasn't been getting much help. Outside of him, no one is averaging more than 9.2 points per game. That could be a problem against this irritating Syracuse defense.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Orange are:
- 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like Syracuse a lot here. Virginia Tech lost virtually all of their offensive production from last season, and I'm not buying their relatively hot start to the year. Syracuse has really impressed me, and they have three different guys scoring the ball well at the moment. They have their best 3-point shooting team in years, and they have been really good on the road recently. Just two games ago, they knocked off a ranked Virginia team on the road, and I think they win this one out right as well. Take them on the money line.
Full-Game Total Pick
The under also makes a lot of sense here. Both of these squads lost a ton of their scoring talent from last season, and both are counting on a lot of young guys for offense. Syracuse plays that a pretty slow tempo, and Virginia Tech plays at an even slower one. Virginia Tech has been playing in a lot of low scoring games, and the under is 7-2 in their last nine contests. I think they will have trouble trying to penetrate Syracuse's zone defense here, and with a freshman as their only consistent scorer, that's a recipe for disaster.