Virginia head coach Tony Bennett kneels to watch a play during an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Charlottesville, Va. (Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP, Pool)
- The Virginia Tech Hokies (12-3, 6-2 ACC) host the Virginia Cavaliers (11-2, 7-0 ACC) Saturday, Jan. 30
- Both teams are coming off wins this week, as UVa blew out Syracuse at home while V-Tech beat Notre Dame on the road
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Virginia Tech Hokies (12-3, 6-2 ACC), off to their best start in conference play since the 2006-07 season, host the Virginia Cavaliers (11-2, 7-0 ACC) Saturday, Jan. 30.
Tip is set for 6pm ET inside Cassell Colisuem.
Saturday’s game marks only the fifth time in series history both in-state rivals from the Commonwealth have been ranked in the AP poll. The series dates back to the 1949-50 season and includes 107 games total. The Hokies have won four of their last five, while the Wahoos have won 15 straight ACC games dating back to last season.
Virginia vs Virginia Tech Odds
|Virginia||-4.5 (-110)||-205||Ov 123.5 (-110)|
|Virginia Tech||+4.5 (-110)||+172||Un 123.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 29 at FanDuel
Virginia’s most recent win came Monday in an 81-58 thrashing of Syracuse in Charlottesville. Tony Bennett’s team went 14-of-31 from beyond the arc to remain undefeated in ACC play. Marquette transfer Sam Hauser knocked down seven from distance, accounting for all of his 21 points.
Meantime, two days after indefinitely suspending his group’s second-leading scorer, rebounder and assist man, Hokies head coach Mike Young saw his team dispatch of Notre Dame 62-51 in South Bend to put a bitter loss to the Orange last weekend behind them.
Now, UVa and Va Tech enter Saturday’s tilt with each team feeling pretty good about itself — but it’s the road squad that’s a slight favorite.
It’s weird to say it but technically, Virginia is still the defending national champion. With no NCAA Tournament in 2020, the last memory college basketball fans have of March Madness was the longtime underachieving-on-the-big-stage program finally finishing its season with a title nearly two years ago.
And Bennett’s squad is the clear class of the conference this season. The ‘Hoos are rated No. 7 overall by KenPom — far and away the most efficient outfit in the ACC. In fact, Florida State (at No. 14) is the only other conference team in the top-30.
Sam Hauser 3️⃣ counter: 🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯@UVAMensHoops ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/ljQqEr9o80
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) January 26, 2021
A big part of the team’s success this season has been because of the 6-foot-8 senior’s play. Hauser is Virginia’s leading scorer (15.0 ppg) and rebounder (7.4 rpg) and he has some help, too. Fellow senior Jay Huff is coming off a career-high 21-point effort against the ‘Cuse. The 7-foot-1 Durham native tallied six dunks, going 8-for-11 from the floor.
If UVa can maintain the inside-outside efforts of Hauser and Huff, the Hokies might be staring at only their second home loss this season (after a 75-55 defeat to Penn State on Dec. 8).
Keeping Up With The Jones’
The Hokies feature three active players (not including Radford) who average in double figures, led by junior Keve Aluma’s 13.9 points per game. The 6-foot-9 forward also leads the team in rebounds, grabbing 7.4 boards per outing. Young’s group has kept up with UVa for the most part this season, and Saturday provides the year’s biggest measuring stick yet.
The pack-line defense Bennett’s team plays is another big test for Va Tech. The Cavaliers also rebound well. But if the Hokies take care of the rock — something UVa didn’t do against Syracuse, turning the ball over 13 times — the home team can hand its in-state rival its first conference loss of the season.
Young’s unit converted easy looks, rebounded well and got stops against the Irish Wednesday. Using that same formula will serve the Hokies well Saturday.
Of course, that’s easier said than done against a Virginia team whose only losses are by one to San Francisco on a neutral court at Mohegan Sun and by 23 to Gonzaga in another neutral floor date in Fort Worth.
The Cavaliers were dominated by the Zags, but narrowly lost to the Dons in possibly college basketball’s biggest upset during this strange COVID-complicated season. USF had to shoot the lights out to pull it off though, going 46% from 3-point land and shooting 52% from the field in the second half. That means Virginia is very close to being rated that much higher than it already it is.
Tech may give UVa a good run. But without Radford, there’s too much that has to go right for the Hokies to beat the Cavaliers.
The pick: Virginia -4.5 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.