Virginia Cavaliers vs. Florida State Seminoles
Monday, February 15, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Donald L Tucker Center
Stakes of the Matchup
Most college basketball games are inconsequential. There are hundreds of teams, and only 68 of them make it to the big dance. To make it to the NCAA tournament, teams must either win their conference or make it as an at-large team. Usually, teams in weaker conferences must win their conference to make the tournament. What makes the ACC different is that they are currently ranked as the fourth-best conference in college basketball.
Typically, the ACC is ranked as the best conference, but this year they have fallen in the rankings because of North Carolina and Duke not doing nearly as well as they usually do. Despite this, the ACC can expect to send several teams to the NCAA tournament including Virginia and Florida State.
Monday night’s game features defending national champion Virginia and an upstart Florida State team. The oddsmakers have determined that FSU is a 1.5 point favorite, but a cogent argument can be made for either team winning. ESPN gives UVA a 64.3% chance of winning and basketball analytics website KenPom gives UVA a 53% chance of winning. Currently Virginia is 11-1 in conference play while FSU is 7-2. If the Cavaliers win, then they are likelier to enter the ACC conference tournament as the number one seed.
Currently Virginia has a 15-3 overall record while Florida State has an 11-3 record. The Seminoles are ranked as the 17th best team while the Cavaliers are ranked as the 9th best team. The game is going to be played at Florida State in front of fans. The question for FSU is if their home court advantage will be enough to overcome a talented Virginia team.
How Virginia and Florida State Match Up
While both teams are close to evenly matched, both teams play much different styles of offense. There are 347 division one college basketball teams that have played this season, and Virginia averages the fewest possessions per game among all of them, as they average only 62.5 possessions. The next slowest team is Air Force who averages two more possessions per game. Florida State plays at a relatively average tempo of 72.3 possessions per game.
The total for Monday night’s game has been set at 129.5 points which is close to the 128.7 of points that are scored in an average UVA game. The total is much lower than the average of 148.6 points that are scored in a typical FSU game. According to the point total (which I agree with) Virginia is expected to control the pace of the game.
Monday night’s game is going to come down to how well the Cavaliers offense does against the Seminoles defense. According to basketball analytics website KenPom, UVA is 12th in adjusted offensive efficiency while FSU is 47th in adjusted defensive efficiency. For Florida State to win, they must play better on defense then they have been playing all season. This is because I would not expect Florida State’s dominant offense to have strength against a Virginia Defense which has the 11th best adjusted defense efficiency in college basketball.
Florida State will certainly benefit from home court advantage, but it will not be enough to overcome Virginia. While I might be tempted to back Florida State if they were an underdog, they have not yet earned the right to be favored against Virginia.
The ACC may be having a down year, but Virginia’s 11-1 conference record is nothing to sneeze at. FSU may have a 7-2 conference record, but they have the weakest strength of schedule among all 15 ACC teams. That is why I am backing the Cavaliers.
College Basketball Pick: Virginia Moneyline (+105) at William Hill