Joe Girard III, Syracuse Orange, Kihei Clark, Virginia Cavaliers, ACC Basketball

Sam Bass and Mat Mlodzinski give their pregame betting picks for the Syracuse Orange and Virginia Cavaliers.

As college basketball journalists, it is hard to stay impartial at all times. Especially true for Sam Bass and Mat Mlodzinski, as the two have soft spots for Virginia and Syracuse, respectively.
So, naturally, whenever these teams play, Sam and Mat always have friendly trash talk and game picks. This game, however, instead of keeping it to a private conversation, the two decided to share their picks for the game.
If you like this post, stay tuned for after the game on Instagram Live where the two will recap the game and talk smack to one another (@cbbreview).
Game Spread: Virginia -5.5
Sam’s pick: Virginia
Although the spread seems low, Syracuse is in desperate need of a signature win. However, Virginia seems to play its best defense in the Dome, and their shooters have found their stroke since the last meeting.
Mat’s pick: Syracuse
Aside from the Virginia Tech game, Syracuse seemed to be starting to come into their own – the Orange just couldn’t close out games against the best of the best. A four-point loss at the Dome to North Carolina and a four-point loss at Miami (Fla) seem to show that Syracuse has what it takes to keep it close with the ACC’s best.
Total: o/u 132
Sam’s pick: Under
How hard is this pick? Virginia has been scoring at better clips than before but a slow-paced game with solid defensive schemes? It would take overtime to reach 132.
Mat’s pick: Over
Syracuse has been an underrated offensive team, scoring at least 70 points in every game but six this season. Four of those games were in the non-conference, which again proves that the Orange have scored better as the season’s gone on. Virginia is also a good scoring team and in a game where Syracuse virtually has a must-win, a few extra points are more than possible on both sides.
Syracuse team total: o/u 63.5
Sam’s pick: Under
Syracuse lives through Joe Girard on offense, and Virginia has seen him too many times to let him be the volume scorer tonight. Reece Beekman is also 100%, which he was not last matchup between the team. Virginia’s defense will be smothering.
Mat’s pick: Over
Syracuse scored 66 points on the road in Virginia the first time these two teams met. Coming off of losses this season, the Cuse are averaging 70.6 points per game. And after a dismal loss to Virginia Tech where the offense was non-existent, SU might be in for a big night in the box score.
Virginia team total: o/u 68.5
Sam’s pick: Under
Although Virginia should cover, I expect this game to be a “first to 50” type of game. Armaan Franklin shoots better at home, and Virginia might not be sharp against the loud crowd at first.
Mat’s pick: Under
If you can’t tell by now, I’m hyping up how big of a game this is for the Syracuse Orange. As long as they play under Jim Boeheim, the defense will come first. The Orange have been almost unbeatable when keeping their opponents under 70 points, so if I’m going to pick an upset, I might as well be smart about it.
1st Half ML: Virginia -190, Syracuse +155
Sam’s pick: Virginia
This game will get close in the second half when Boeheim decides to press. Until then, Virginia will be in control.
Mat’s pick: Virginia
Syracuse has not been a good first-half team and given how good Virginia is at controlling the flow of games, the Cavaliers would have the edge from the tip. I think it’ll be close, but it’ll be in UVA’s favor after the first 20 minutes.

By Samuel Bass

Writing sports, college basketball, ACC hoops