Liberty (29-6) vs Virginia Tech (25-8)
When: Sunday, March 24th, 2019
Where: SAP Center,
San Jose, CA
Time: 7:10 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Virginia Tech -9/126
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Its been a long time since the Virginia Tech Hokies basketball program has tasted the Sweet 16, but they’ll be heavy favorites to get there for the first time since 1967 when they take on the upset-minded Liberty Flames on Sunday from San Jose. The third-seeded Hokies’ 25 wins have matched a school record and they easily ran by Saint Louis in first round action Friday, 66-52 behind a terrific defensive effort. Meanwhile, 12th-seeded Liberty needed a big rally on Friday against Mississippi State for their first every NCAA Tournament victory. The Flames rallied from a 10-point second half deficit and hope to be this year’s Cinderella. The teams did play each other in an exhibition game November 4th to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, and Virginia Tech scored an 86-70 road win at Liberty.
Liberty’s rally Friday was sparked by junior guard Celeb Homesley, who went off for 14 points in just over four minutes to help his school win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time. Homesley led all scorers with 30 points and hit five of the Flames’ 12 three-pointers, as the team shot 46.2 percent from the field and 48.0 percent from long range. Lovell Cabbil, Jr. finished with 18 points Friday while Scottie James – the team’s leading scorer at 12.9 – finished with just six after averaging 18.7 in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Junior forward Myo Baxter-Bell picked up some of that scoring slack off the bench with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes.
Senior guard Justin Robinson returned from a 12-game injury abscence to help provide the Hokies a spark off the bench. Robinson was a bit rusty, going 2-of-7 from the floor, but did score nine points and had a pair of steals to go along with four turnovers. Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the team with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while junior forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. chipped in 15 points including 11 of them from the free throw line. The Hokies always reliable defense held the Billikens to 36.5 percent shooting and 4-of-23 from beyond the arc.
Liberty is a nice little story, but it ends on Sunday. The Hokies, although shaky on offense, have the defense to completely smother this Flames team. Virginia Tech will force a lot of turnovers and control the glass in an easy double-digit win.
Pick: Virginia Tech -8.5
Flames are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Flames are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
Flames are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
Flames are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Flames are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS win.
Flames are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games.
Hokies are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
Hokies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games.
Hokies are 20-8 ATS in their last 28 non-conference games.
Hokies are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Hokies are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
Hokies are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
Under is 7-2 in Flames last 9 games following a ATS win.
Over is 3-1-1 in Flames last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Under is 7-3 in Flames last 10 neutral site games.
Under is 11-5-1 in Flames last 17 games following a straight up win.
Under is 4-0-1 in Hokies last 5 non-conference games.
Under is 4-0 in Hokies last 4 neutral site games.
Over is 8-3 in Hokies last 11 games following a straight up win.
Over is 5-2 in Hokies last 7 Sunday games.
Over is 9-4-1 in Hokies last 14 games following a ATS win.