Monday’s ACC clash between North Carolina State and Virginia carries more weight than a typical early-season conference game. Both squads enter the game at 4-3 in conference play, just two games behind the current ACC leaders in Florida State and Louisville. The winner of Monday’s contest will remain within striking distance of the conference’s elite teams, while the loser will have a much more difficult path towards the regular season conference crown.
Cavaliers Looking for Positive Momentum
The defending national champions have faced much more adversity than last year’s 35-3 group, as Virginia had dropped three consecutive games prior to knocking off Georgia Tech on Saturday. It’s been difficult to get an accurate read on the Cavaliers this season, a team that started the season 7-0 and then has played .500 basketball over the prior 10 contests.
When identifying weaknesses with the Cavaliers, the most glaring statistic is the 348th–ranked scoring offense out of 350 Division I basketball teams. Virginia is also the only team in the country to have played 17 games and not crossed the 1000-point threshold on the season, a mark they surely are not happy with. Virginia’s two best players have inarguably been Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key, a pair of talented senior leaders on both ends of the floor. The 6’9 Diakite leads the Cavs on the offensive end with 13.4 points, while the 6’8 Key is tops on the team with 6.8 rebounds per game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cavaliers are currently leading the nation allowing 49.5 points per game. For a team that struggles to consistently score points, Virginia has lost all four games in which they have allowed more than 60 points. In a game against a potent Wolfpack offense, the team that is able to establish their brand of basketball over 40 minutes will emerge victorious. If Virginia can slow the pace and stifle the fast-paced Wolfpack, the Cavaliers will have an excellent opportunity to notch an important victory against a conference foe.
Wolfpack Hoping for Resume Building Win
N.C. State entered the season with low expectations, a belief that was reinforced following their season-opening loss to Georgia Tech at home. However, the Wolfpack have surpassed those early-season expectations with wins in 12 of the last 16 games, with all four of those losses coming against either ranked opponents or conference foes. Although N.C. State hasn’t knocked off a ranked opponent yet this season, they do have single-digit losses against both Memphis and Auburn to showcase their consistent competitiveness.
N.C. State is reliant on one of the country’s top offenses to stay competitive in the ACC, which will be no small task on Monday. Averaging 77.4 points per game on the year, the Wolfpack feature the second strongest offense in the ACC. Led by senior guard C.J. Bryce and his 15.0 points per game, N.C. State features four double-digit scorers on that end of the floor. The Wolfpack are shooting 45.6% from the floor, although they’ve knocked down only 33.0% from downtown on the year. For a team allowing 69.2 points per game, N.C. State is going to need a strong offensive performance to pull off the road upset.
This line seems a little too close at this point, as I don’t see N.C. State sticking with the Cavaliers for two full halves. Virginia’s defense is strong enough to stifle the Wolfpack and take care of business on their home floor. Virginia also needs this one more as they look to turn their season around and make a run at defending their national championship crown, and I trust experience and leadership to win out against a slightly overachieving Wolfpack bunch on Monday night. Bet the Cavaliers of Virginia -4 at our favorite pay per head bookie RealBookies.
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