Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:15 PM EST.
7:00 PM EST. Virginia Tech comes into this game as the #11 team in America, but a closer look shows that it has played some weak non-conference competition to pad its 16-3 schedule. The Hokies have played the 322nd ranked non-conference schedule of the 353 ranked schools. A 5-2 start to begin ACC play might also look impressive, but Va Tech has beat up on the weaker sides in Notre Dame (1-7), Boston College (2-4), Georgia Tech (3-5) and Wake Forest (1-6) all of which have losing ACC records. In its two games against ranked North Carolina and Virginia, the Hokies were embarrassed by scores of 103-82 and 81-59 respectively. The Hokies blasted a good Syracuse team 78-56 last time out, but it shot the lights out that day after dropping 14 three-pointers. The Hokies are off to their best start under head coach Buzz Williams, but don't be fooled by these paper tigers.
The Hurricanes check many of the boxes that make them an undervalued home pooch tonight that is taking back inflated points. First, you have Miami's recent results, which have not been pretty, as it has lost six of its last seven games. Secondly, the Hurricanes have a pitiful record in their conference after a 1-6 start to ACC play and they are a sub .500 team overall at 9-10. Third, Miami is mired in a scandal involving star forward Dewan Hernandez, who it was hoping to bet back in the lineup, but the NCAA ruled Hernandez out for the rest of this season and nearly half of next year for agreeing to accept benefits from an agent. Hernandez has since withdrawn from Miami and will focus on the NBA draft. Finally, the Hurricanes are an unranked team that is hosting the ranked Hokies in a nationally televised game in prime time, which is often a scenario that sees more attention paid to the side that is carrying that Top-25 designation. This start is not what coach Jim Larranaga had in mind after racking up 20 wins in six of his first seven seasons and after making the last three NCAA Tournaments, but we'll cut the 'Canes some slack after losing their big three from last season. Chris Lykes has stepped up this year and leads the team in scoring, but he has gone cold, which is a big reason why Miami has lost its last two games by double digits. Lykes took the collar in a 0-for-12 shooting night against Florida State on Sunday, which came on the heels of his 4-of-27 night against Syracuse. From beyond the arc, Lykes is 0-for-20 in his last two games. For a player that averages 16.6 points per game, better days are likely coming for Lykes and the 'Canes. Miami lost three of its first five ACC games by just single digits and proved that it could hang with the likes of NC State, Florida State and North Carolina. If the Hurricanes shots drop at even an average rate, there is a great chance that they’ll come in well under the tag and perhaps even win this one outright. Make no mistake that this is a winnable game.
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#800 MIAMI +8 -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)