Iowa at Virginia Picks and NIT Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 3/27/2013
When No. 3 seed Iowa plays at No. 1 seed Virginia on Wednesday night, a trip to the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden on April 2 is on the line. The way the remaining field sets up, I think there is also a more than decent chance that whichever team wins this game will go on to win the whole tournament. That makes the stakes particularly high for this one — and therefore it’s a particularly interesting game for bettors.
Virginia has yet to break a sweat in the tournament so far. After opening up with a reasonably easy win over Norfolk State, they beat up on a St. John’s team that was just waiting for their nightmare of a season to finally be over. Iowa’s path hasn’t been any harder. They opened at home against Indiana State, but Larry Bird’s alma mater wasn’t up to the test. Then they got a break when Stony Brook upset UMass in their opener. That meant that Iowa got to host No. 7 Stony Brook instead of having to go on the road to play the No. 2 seed. They took advantage of the opportunity and won easily. Chances are good that the path will get much harder for both teams in this one.
Iowa at Virginia Betting storylines
I like the Hawkeyes quite a bit. I’d like them a whole lot more in this spot, though, if the game was being played at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are a sold 23-12 on the season but are just 2-8 on the road. Those two wins came against Penn State and Northwestern — hardly the strongest opponents the team traveled to play this year. They have lost six of their last seven on the road as well. The team just doesn’t perform in the same way when they travel. Traveling to play at a Virginia team that is a perfect 20-0 at home, including wins over Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State, the road woes of the Hawkeyes certainly has a chance to be the defining element of this game.
No matter where they are playing, Virginia is going to have to come up with an answer for Iowa guard Roy-Devyn Marble. He’s the best player on the team, but he has really stepped his game up in the postseason. He has averaged 26 points and 5.5 assists in the last two games — well above his season averages of 14.8 and 2.9. The junior is just on fire, and he’s making everyone around him better as a result. Stop him and the Cavaliers will win. Virginia can look back to the Michigan State game in the Big Ten Tournament or the Nebraska game to close out the regular season to see a road map of how to contain Marble — he was a shadow of himself both times. The Cavs also have their defensive strength to fall back on — they are fourth in the country in points allowed and 12th in opponent field goal percentage. The Hawkeyes are good at a lot of things, but shooting is not one of them — they are just 229th in the country in field goal percentage and much worse from three point range.
The Cavaliers have had a breakout performer of their own in the NIT. Freshman guard Justin Anderson has averaged 7.1 points per game but has averaged 16.5 in the two tournament games. The performances came more out of nowhere than the Marble games, though, so it is much harder to believe that it is sustainable.
Iowa at Virginia NIT Odds and Betting Trends
Iowa is 21-6 ATS in their last 27 games. Seven of their last nine games have gone “under” the total. 17 of Virginia’s last 21 nonconference games have gone under the total. Virginia is a strong 14-4-1 ATS in their last 19 home games.
Iowa at Virginia Picks and Betting Predictions
I like Iowa a lot, and I give them extra credit given how good the Big Ten has been in the postseason overall. Unfortunately, though, this is the one matchup that just doesn’t work for them. Their weaknesses meet up with Virginia’s strengths. They will get even fewer opportunities to hit shots than normal, and they are playing in a very hostile location. Virginia is the pick, with the under also being somewhat attractive — though not as much as the side.
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