The struggling Virginia Tech Hokies head to Louisville to face the No. 11 Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are coming off close losses, and although Louisville is the better team, they’ve been quite inconsistent lately.
The Hokies went from a 26-9 team last year, ranked No. 14 in the Coaches Poll, to a 15-13 team and 11th in the ACC. Although they’re likely to lose this game, the question becomes, can they cover?
The Louisville Cardinals come in as 12.5-point favorites, and after a rough loss to Florida State will be desperate for a hot start.
With both teams searching for a win, can Virginia Tech pull off the upset? Or will the Cardinals get the ship back on course with a win over the Hokies and cover the 12.5-point spread?
Louisville looking to get hot
This game against Virginia Tech comes just in time for Louisville, after losing three of their last five games, the Cardinals need to get back to winning fast. A victory would put Louisville alone in the lead in the ACC standings after losses by Florida State and Duke on Saturday.
With March Madness quickly approaching, Louisville needs to win its last two games to build momentum heading in. Luckily, the Cardinals start this two-game stretch at home.
Although the Cardinals are one of the better shooting teams in the league, especially from the three-point line, they’ve struggled recently. Even against teams like Clemson and Georgia Tech, who are at or barely above .500, the Cardinals couldn’t get their offense going.
Judging them against ranked teams, they’ve gone 2-3 through the season, which doesn’t bode well for the tournament. With the games only getting harder going forward, it’s safe to say this is a must-win for Louisville.
Louisville has a 6-0 record against Virginia Tech, but a 3-3 record ATS. Their overall record against the spread through the season is 14-14-1, with a 9-7-1 ATS record at home. What makes me nervous about Louisville though, is how they faltered against Georgia Tech and Clemson. Those losses may seem like anomalies, but you have to take that into consideration when betting as well.
Virginia Tech, ready for a fight
Virginia Tech went from one of the best teams in college basketball last year to, for lack of a better term, mediocre. You could credit their struggles this year to seniors departing and head coach Buzz Williams leaving to coach Texas A&M.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many bright spots on this Hokies team, and having to play a team desperate for a win like Louisville doesn’t make this game any easier.
Virginia Tech won’t go silently into the night though, they’ve seen that Louisville can be defeated by teams like Georgia Tech, who aren’t as good as Virginia Tech. If the Hokies can force the Cardinals into playing their defensive game, Virginia Tech could pull this off.
What could help Virginia Tech win this one is that two Louisville players are questionable for this game, and one will be out for 1-2 weeks. With the Cardinals lineup riddled with injuries, the Hokies have a potential opening to at least cover the spread.
Unfortunately, Virginia Tech doesn’t give bettors much confidence when it comes to covering a spread, with an overall record of 11-17 ATS, relying on the Hokies to cover a spread makes little sense. If you wanted less confidence in Virginia Tech, consider that their 1-10 in their last eleven games.
Pick and Prediction
Although the Cardinals will be down a few players and are coming off a tough loss, the importance of this game remains paramount. Louisville has two games left to improve their positioning, and a win here gets their momentum and morale back, just in time for March Madness.
Unfortunately, Virginia Tech has had some setbacks this year, which makes me feel like they won’t be able to contend with Louisville’s offense. Also considering how poorly they perform against the spread, I have to take the home team in this one. Louisville Cardinals -12.5.