Back Cavs in Slow-Paced Affair?

Back Cavs in Slow-Paced Affair?

Virginia vs. North Texas Odds

Virginia is second-to-last in the country in tempo.

North Texas is last.

How fun is this!?

Both Virginia and North Texas grind the game to a halt and rely on defensive progress to win games—although Virginia’s defense has been weaker than in recent years.

Given the two team’s style of play, the total has opened at just 110.

But even that feels high.

It was a disappointing year for Virginia. The season opened with a bad loss to Navy and closed with a blowout loss to North Carolina.

There was a quick spurt in the middle when Virginia won four straight, including beating Miami and Duke. Its NCAA Tournament hopes were raised only to be crushed after.

Virginia just didn’t have the shot-makers. It finished second-to-last in the ACC in 3-point shooting (32.1%) and barely scored over .9 PPP in spot-up opportunities.

Kihei Clark is a good guard, but the ball-screen offense wasn’t there this year. And in terms of scoring production, Clark is basically average, sporting a 100-flat ORtg.

The only time Virginia can score is in transition — something the Cavaliers loathe doing.

Defensively, the Cavaliers have been mostly unlucky. Virginia ranks 63rd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency but 33rd in ShotQuality’s SQ PPP allowed metric.

Maybe the Cavs will see some more of that regression throughout the NIT.

It was a dream season for the Mean Green, who finished 16-2 in C-USA play and held opponents to just 55 points per game — by far the lowest in the NCAA.

But when crunch time came, the offense couldn’t score enough. The Mean Green held Louisiana Tech to just 42 points in a C-USA matchup, but managed only 36 points themselves.

As such, UNT’s unlikely season came to a close.

North Texas runs every opponent off the 3-point line. The Mean Green have allowed just a 29.7% opponent 3-point rate, which ranks ninth nationally. And when those opponents got opportunities, North Texas held them to just a 27.7% clip, which ranks third nationally.

On the other end, North Texas does the opposite. It’s top-80 in 3-point rate and top-60 in 3-point shooting (35.8%). Per ShotQuality, the Mean Green rank 11th nationally in SQ PPP on off-the-dribble 3s.

Four players average double-digit scoring, goal guard Tylor Perry and forward Thomas Bell will get the majority of the shots.

Virginia vs. North Texas Betting Pick

I’m willing to roll with Tony Bennett and the Cavs in this spot.

North Texas runs everyone off the 3-point line, but expect Bennett to counter by dumping it down low to Jayden Gardner & Co. Shooting 3s hasn’t worked for the Cavs all season, and they have one of the lowest 3-point rates (29.7%) anyway.

North Texas is also a little undersized on the interior, with only Abou Ousmane standing over 6-foot-7.

In the end, I’m going to trust Bennett catching points in the slowest-pace, lowest-scoring game of the season.

Pick: Virginia +3

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