(2) Virginia Cavaliers (-7, 126 o/u) at NC State Wolfpack
Tonight, the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (21-1, 9-1 ACC) visit PNC Arena in Raleigh to face the dangerous NC State Wolfpack (14-10, 5-6 ACC) at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
The Cavaliers – whose lone loss on the season came against No. 4 Duke – are ranked just behind undefeated Kentucky in the AP Poll. Since losing to the Blue Devils in late January, the Cavaliers have two straight over tough competition, downing No. 12 UNC (75-64) and topping No. 9 Louisville (52-47).
Virginia coach Tony Bennett was pleased with the way his team handled the stretch of games against top-ranked teams.
“I think if we made a big deal out of this: ‘OK, we got through the gauntlet’ … and now you take a breath or relax, big mistake,” said Bennett. “If we get tired of trying to do it the way we have and what we do and how we do it, that would be a mistake.”
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, have lost four of their last five games, including an 88-84 setback against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons last time out.
“We’ve stubbed our toe a few times. We know it,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. “In this league, there’s not a lot of forgiveness. … The time is now. It’s time to step up and get going.”
Despite a number of questionable losses, the Wolfpack remain a dangerous team that can compete with anyone in the conference on any given night. They topped Duke at home in early January (87-75), and also own road wins over Georgia Tech (81-80 in OT) and Florida State (72-63).
Virginia is a seven-point favorite tonight despite playing on the road. A couple trends make Virginia-minus-the-points look like the better play: NC State is 0-5 ATS in its last five at home against Virginia, and Virginia is 8-0 SU in true road games this year.
(Photo credit: Lauren Nelson (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)