Saturday marks another loaded day in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with six games and 12 teams in action as we are fully engulfed in conference play. In one of the more intriguing matchups of the day, the up-and-down Syracuse Orange hit the road to take on Mamadi Diakite and the Virginia Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers have lost three of their last seven, yet are still 3-1 in the ACC, while the Orange have dropped six of their last 10 and are just 1-3 in league play.
Virginia is led by Diakite (12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game) and sophomore guard Kihei Clark (9.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds per game). They already defeated Syracuse once this season, a 48-34 torturous display of basketball to open the 2019-20 season for both teams.
While Diakite and Clark lead the Cavs statistically, it is Braxton Key who has emerged as Virginia’s best player recently, averaging 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds along with 2.3 steals over his last three games.
Syracuse had a promising performance in a losing effort against Notre Dame last weekend that appeared to signal the turning of the corner for the Orange. But they lost their next game at home to Virginia Tech.
The Orange now sit at 8-7 overall and are led by Elijah Hughes (19.6 ppg) and Buddy Boeheim (15.3 ppg). It has become commonplace for the Orange ride the bubble into the tournament only to perform well in the postseason, but 2019-20 is starting to feel a little different.
Virginia is a 7.5-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 114.5.
Orange Try To Break Out Of Funk
If Syracuse is to return to its normal position on the bubble, it needs to start winning ACC games post haste. The Orange have lost two very winnable games in a row, and while their ACC schedule is not as daunting as it could be, you have to win games at home, which they have not done thus far.
In road and neutral games, the Orange are just 1-3 against the spread, 0-6 in their last six games and just 4-11 overall on the season. The Orange are 9-6 in the over/under and have gone over in eight of their last 11 games.
Will The Shooting Come Around For Virginia?
Virginia is still an elite defensive team as in years past, but its offense is still a work in progress. On the season, the Cavaliers are 11-2 straight up as a favorite but just 4-10 against the spread overall, 2-10 in their last 12, and 3-6 ATS at home.
Regardless of its offensive shortcomings, Virginia is 17-3 straight up in its last 20 games dating back to last season and 12-1 straight up in its last 13 games at home.
Pick and Prediction
Both of these teams are interesting in the sense that Syracuse should probably be better, and Virginia should probably be worse. The Orange average roughly 74 points per game but have erupted for 97 points against a very good defensive Georgia Tech team on the road and 87 against Notre Dame at home.
Virginia’s offense is still not great but is coming around. Since their loss to Purdue, the Cavaliers have averaged less than 0.90 points per possession only once, their most recent game against Boston College.
Syracuse has enough offense and enough shooting to keep this game close. The Orange’s pride should get them up for the game after laying a complete egg to open the season against the Cavaliers. Syracuse should cover, but Virginia doesn’t lose at home. Take the under.
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