ACC Tournament First Round Top Picks: Louisville and Virginia Tech Defenses Ready to Execute

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Ven-Allen Lubin #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish shoots over Grant Basile #21 of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP.

NCAAB Top Pick for Today

Louisville vs. Boston College: Louisville +6 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Louisville +6 (-108)
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Picks Summary

  • Louisville vs. Boston College: Louisville +6 (-108)
  • Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech -6.5 (-105)

Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAB odds for today’s ACC Tournament action. Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in: Louisville vs. Boston College and Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for both games.

Louisville Cardinals vs. Boston College Eagles

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 04:30 PM EST at Greensboro Coliseum

Boston College’s Offense

The Eagles rely heavily on scoring at the basket. They attempt the 61st-highest rate of field goals at the rim. Part of this determination to score at the basket emanates from necessity: the Eagles should not want to shoot threes, because they lack efficient three-point shooters.

Their most efficient three-point shooter is center Quinten Post, who is also their top shot-taker. But Post rarely attempts threes in the first place. Plus, his status for tonight’s game is uncertain: he played three minutes in his team’s last game because an ankle injury forced him to leave it.

Post’s productivity and the fact that he also gets a higher rate of assists than almost all his teammates indicate the centrality of his role in Boston College’s offense, which would miss him gravely. Besides throwing it inside to Post, Boston College will try to rely on the dribble penetration of point guard Makai Ashton-Langford.

Louisville’s Defensive Style

The best way to beat Louisville is by flourishing from behind the arc because the Cardinals allow three-point attempts at one of the highest rates in the ACC. They are willing to sacrifice three-point attempts in return for guarding extra attentively against dribble penetration.

Multiple Cardinal defenders will remain situated within or directly next to the point, ensuring that opposing ball-handlers have minimal room in which to operate. This is true whether they are in man or zone; their length also suits them for playing zone.

Dribble penetration is thus relatively difficult to accomplish against the Cardinals’ defense. Statistically, the best proof for this difficulty is the low rate at which Louisville allows attempted field goals at the rim. This difficulty is compounded by Louisville’s aggressiveness when defending the low post where they are willing to double-team the opposing post player.

With our NCAAB picks in mind, I like Louisville to cover the spread established at Kentucky betting sites because its defense is used to doing the things well that will keep Boston College’s offense from accomplishing what it most wants to do.

Louisville’s Offensive Outlook

Perhaps after relying on the distribution of point guard El Ellis, Louisville players are comfortable operating in isolation. One example is shooting guard Mike James, who shares both Ellis’ determination and ability to create and make his shot at the basket.

Boston College is devoted to preventing the opponent from scoring easy baskets at the rim by collapsing inside on opposing ball-handlers. This devotion has made it easy for opponents to work for open three-point attempts because they can simply pass the ball back out to a shooter after the Eagles’ defense collapses inside.

Louisville boasts several players who can exploit a porous Eagles’ perimeter defense that allows a high three-point conversion rate. Look out, for example, for James and forward Jae’Lyn Withers; James in ACC play shoots 37.8 percent from deep while Withers’ three-point conversion rate in ACC play is 44.3 percent.

It is hard to like Boston College when you like Louisville’s defense because the Eagles’ defense is rather vulnerable in ways that Cardinal scorers can exploit severely.

NCAAB Pick: Louisville +6 (-108) at Heritage Sports

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Greensboro Coliseum

Away from Home

When these teams first met, the Hokies won 93-87 at Notre Dame. That game underscored the discomfort of Virginia Tech’s defense in a road atmosphere. Indeed, the Hokies’ defense repeatedly floundered in road games.

But Virginia Tech is improving in this respect. The Hokies won their last road game by beating Louisville 71-54. While Louisville is quite bad, holding the Cardinals to 54 points remains an impressive feat that few of Louisville’s opponents have accomplished.

Three-Point Shooting

What this game will come down to, primarily, is three-point shooting. The Fighting Irish are overly dependent on shooting threes, while especially the passing and overall skill set of its frontcourt allows Virginia Tech to thrive inside.

But the Hokies are doing a better job of making opposing shooters uncomfortable. To this end, Hokies’ defenders are adjusting their ball-screen tactics, using physicality, and eliminating open spaces. They succeeded in limiting Pitt, for example, to three three-pointers.

The characteristically solid perimeter defense of individuals like shooting guard Hunter Cattoor also helps the Hokies, whereas Notre Dame’s last game indicates the continuing extent of its defensive woes.

NCAAB Pick: Virginia Tech -6.5 (-105) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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Virginia Tech -6.5 (-105)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.