The defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers enter Wednesday night’s conference clash against No. 9 Florida State in an unfamiliar spot. Having lost two consecutive games, Virginia sits in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference pack at 11-4 and 3-2 in conference play. On the other hand, Florida State looks like a legitimate contender for the conference crown at 14-2 overall and just a lone, season-opening blemish against Pitt in the season-opener out of their five ACC games so far.
Seminoles Looking to Extend Hot Streak
Florida State enters the contest on the strength of seven consecutive victories, six of which have been by double digits. The Seminoles also boast an 8-0 record on their home floor, however Florida State hasn’t faced an opponent with a higher RPI than Clemson (RPI: 103) in a home contest this season.
Florida State has about as balanced an offensive attack as you’ll find in college hoops. Three Seminoles guards are averaging double-digit scoring on the year, with Devin Vassell (12.2 ppg), Trent Forrest (12.2 ppg) and M.J. Walker (11.6 ppg) leading the way. Forrest, a senior, has been the facilitator on the offensive end with a team-best 3.9 assists on the year.
The Seminoles aren’t too shabby on defense, either, allowing only 63.4 points per game, which ranks sixth in the ACC. Four opponents have broken the 70-point threshold against Florida State this year, so there certainly has been a level of inconsistency to their game. However, by averaging 76.4 points per contest on the offensive end, the Seminoles are able to mitigate that defensive inconsistency with a balanced offensive attack.
Cavaliers Hoping for Spark to End Skid
After a 9-1 start to the year, Virginia has come up short in three of its last five games, including a pair of surprising consecutive losses to Boston College and Syracuse. Tony Bennett’s crew doesn’t have any truly impressive wins on the season, either, with only a victory against previously No. 7 North Carolina as the lone win over a ranked opponent, and UNC has certainly fallen on hard times since then. Virginia isn’t playing at a championship level this year, and will likely be in for a rude awakening in their most difficult matchup of the year.
The Cavaliers aren’t going to wow you on offense, in fact it’s quite the opposite on that end of the floor. Virginia is averaging 55.7 points per game, which ranks 351st out of 353 eligible Division 1 basketball programs. While Bennett-coached teams are never confused for offensive juggernauts, this year’s bunch has struggled mightily to score points.
Virginia’s defense has held opponents to just 48.7 points per game, the only team in the country to give up less than 50 points on average. The issue for the Cavaliers has been their splits in wins and losses. In four losses this season, the Cavs are allowing 65.5 points per game. While that number isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, it pales in comparison to the 42.5 points Virginia has allowed in 11 wins on the year. For a team that struggles mightily to put the ball in the basket, the Cavs rely heavily on the nation’s best scoring defense to keep them competitive.
I just don’t think Virginia can muster enough offense to come away with a conference win in a hostile environment against one of the country’s most complete teams. Florida State is battle tested with three wins against ranked foes, and will be able to score more reliably to come away with the win. It’s never easy to pick against a Tony Bennett team, but this is far from his best Virginia squad, and that will be apparent during their third straight loss on Wednesday. Take Florida State -6.5 at PayPerHead247.com our top pay per head bookie.