Although the marathon that is Feast Week has come to an end, the 2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge begins with an intriguing clash of styles between Iowa and Virginia. Below are my college basketball best bets for this matchup.
Click on the odds below to bet now. You can also continue the discussion in our betting community, as we break down all of the games throughout the week.
College Basketball Best Bets: Monday, Nov. 29
Iowa Hawkeyes @ Virginia Cavaliers
Fran McCaffrey’s team enters this contest with a 6-0 straight-up record while going 4-2 against the spread.
After losing Luka Garza — 2021 Wooden Award winner — the 6-foot-8 Keegan Murray has emerged as Iowa’s go-to scorer. Murray is tallying the 12th-highest shot percentage. He ranks No. 31 in possession rate too. Essentially, the Hawkeyes are running their offense through the versatile sophomore forward.
But Iowa will face their most arduous test thus far in Virginia, which presents Tony Bennett’s vintage pack-line defense. Although the Hawkeyes space the floor at a 38.5% clip, the ‘Hoos unit crowds the interior and should limit Murray’s clean looks from inside the arc.
More importantly, Virginia’s halfcourt offense must be efficient enough to minimize Iowa’s transition opportunities. The ‘Hoos are operating at the slowest tempo in college basketball while sitting No. 41 in near-proximity scoring rate (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins), according to Haslametrics.
The Hawkeyes have held up around the rim against opponents outside KenPom’s top-200 rankings, but they’ll have strenuous time halting East Carolina transfer Jayden Gardner in the paint. Despite his 6-foot-6 stature, Gardner boasts a burly frame and can bully his way to the hoop.
If Gardner supplies the ‘Hoos offense near the basket, he’ll open up their inconsistent yet sufficient perimeter shooting with Armaan Franklin and Kihei Clark. Franklin has dealt with his fair share of struggles in his first stint with Virginia, but the Indiana transfer is a career 34.2% 3-point gunner.
Regarding the total (O/U ), the betting market is already reacting appropriately for a game that sets up for a slower pace. I see plenty of value in the spread though, and I’d back the ‘Hoos up to -1.
Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Virginia +2 (placed Sunday evening)
Best Available Line: Virginia