East Carolina at Virginia Pick and Prediction to get back to .500 (13-14 this season).
East Carolina visits Charlottesville to take on Virginia at the John Paul Jones Arena. UVA is coming off a tough loss to West Virginia this past weekend and East Carolina is on a three game winning streak. The Hoos come in with a 7-1 record and the Pirates are 7-2 with losses to Mercer and Charlotte this season.
Virginia plays at an incredibly slow pace and their Blocker-Mover Offense is a rather unique role oriented offense to prepare for as a defense. Their Pack Line Defense is perhaps what Tony Bennett’s squad has far more notoriety. The Pack Line Defense’s discipline chokes off opponents on offense, slows them down, forces turnovers and denies good shots on the perimeter and inside the perimeter.
Virginia’s offense is a wild card, but the defense is typically stiff. Virginia blew away their first five opponents this season and these opponents were really no match for the Hoos, even Yale. Yale beat Washington at The Hec, but Washington does not really play defense.
However, their last three opponents really made them work for their wins. Virginia was down at the half against Ohio State by 12 and came back to win that one. They were not so lucky against a more experienced and determined West Virginia team that made Virginia very uncomfortable.
Virginia does not seek to get to the Free Throw Line and they work to get their shots in the restricted arc. They are very effective at scoring in the Half Court Offense (55.3% effective Field Goal rate – 26th in the country), which is where 88% of shots are taken for UVA.
Interestingly, the Pack Line Defense does not deny the interior to opponents like one would expect. The shot quality is poor, but the shots are taken in the money zones.
It is very noticeable that opponents are shooting terrible from three point range, but if their shots are not blocked in the restricted arc, they are able to score. UVA is only 154th in the nation in denying shots in the restricted arc this season.
Virginia’s offense is not blowing anyone away and against quality competition, they are not as effective thus far.
Jeff Lebo is still the Head Coach at East Carolina somehow. Lebo’s team operates at a slow pace too and has played rather good defense against a poor schedule.
East Carolina’s offense leaves much to be desired, but that’s to be expected from this team.
East Carolina gets to the Free Throw Line much more than Virginia would and they are going to have to figure out a way to score in places outside of the mid-range area.
East Carolina has done a very good job patrolling the money zones on defense. They deny opportunities to shoot good shots in the restricted arc and block shots just as well as UVA. They also allow a low three point Field Goal rate as well.
East Carolina at Virginia Pick and Prediction
East Carolina and Virginia are going to play a low scoring game that is extremely slow paced. Virginia’s offense needs a pick-me-up, but will it really come against a rather confident East Carolina defense? The big question is whether East Carolina can score enough points against UVA to keep this game competitive. East Carolina is going to try to score in transition, good luck to them. They are a good transition offense team, but UVA is going to try to choke this game out.
Let’s look at East Carolina last season to get a sense of Jeff Lebo vs. defensive teams that play extremely slow…
There was a three game stretch last season for ECU at California, at San Diego State and against UALR. Three teams known for defense and slow pace. Only San Diego State blew them out.
UVA is not going to press ECU and so the turnover figures should go down unless the half court offense is so out-of-sync. ECU can rebound rather well and UVA does too.
Looking at the line, the Over/Under was placed at 115.5. UVA are 21 point favorites over the Pirates. Points will come at a premium tonight. ECU has a good defense and this not really a young team coming into Charlottesville.
Prediction: Virginia 64 East Carolina 49 (Pick: East Carolina +21)