Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST odds are subject to change.
Virginia +186 over Pitt
Scott Stadium – Charlottesville, VA
Streaming: ACC Network
12:00 PM EST. We frequently speak about the market playing results and not performances, this one typifies that philosophy. On paper, we have the Pitt Panthers who come into this game 5-4 on the heels of a win against a then #20 Syracuse. While the Orange had been exposed for weeks now as a pretender, the market’s obsession with results is permeating here, as the Panthers defeated the Orange 19-9, who retained a ranking despite their slide. Pitt caught Syracuse at the right time after their playoff bubble had burst and they did so within the cozy confines of Heinz Field. However, the oddsmakers were onto Syracuse, as they intentionally hung a favorite-friendly number of -3½ with the Panthers, despite Syracuse being the ranked side. Pitt simply did what it was supposed to do. The ingredients cultivated the result, not the opposite.
This week, Pitt opened at an identical price to last week’s number. However, there are some stark differences. Pitt is laying the same tag to a Virginia team that stands 3-6 on the year. Though Pitt will have to play the role of a small road favorite (a role that is not bereft of peril), the efficient market saw the same number offered up against a far-lesser opponent and hammered it up to its current number.
While the movement alone would suggest approaching Pitt with caution, we would also like to highlight that the Cavaliers could be 6-3 as fast as they are 3-6. Records are quite deceiving. The Cavaliers lost to #20 Syracuse earlier this season in a 22-20 thriller. While the market may be quick to point out results against a common opponent, once again we cite the ingredients. ‘Cuse was on the come-up and they were at home, ranked for the first time in years, and coming off a dramatic win against Purdue. The Orange were more motivated and even with said moxie, were lucky to escape Virginia by way of a late field goal. Pitt got the same Syracuse team in Pittsburgh after they had hit their peak; big difference.
Diving deeper into UVA’s schedule, Virginia also owns a four-overtime loss to Miami which incidentally the Cavs had many opportunities to put Miami away in regulation but a collection of in-game variances went against them to cultivate the loss. Most recently, the Cavs took their rival #15 North Carolina the distance in a 31-28 barnburner in the latest iteration of the South’s Oldest Rivalry. To summarize, against three opponents (two of which were ranked at the time of the contest), Virginia lost by a combined seven points. Had the bounces gone their way, they would be 6-3 and likely the favorite here. That in itself could warrant the position that the wrong side is favored but we also like the emotional intangibles resting with the Cavaliers compared to their counterpart.
You see, Virginia has six losses on the year. One more loss puts them out of contention for a bowl berth, so every game from here until the end is essentially a bowl game. The Cavaliers are “free-rolling”. Teams of this nature are especially dangerous to go against and they can be a brier of thorns when cast in the home underdog role.
Should Virginia get a win here, they get Coastal Carolina in Charlottesville next week, who incidentally looks far less scary compared to recent years, and then the Commonwealth Cup in Blacksburg against arch nemesis Virginia Tech, who certainly looks beatable. The path to the post-season for Virginia is still open and thus we can expect the Cavs to throw the kitchen sink at these invaders. We’re going in for the kill. Cavaliers outright.
Virginia +186 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.72)