As a part of the annual battle between the Big Ten and the ACC during the non-conference schedule, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Virginia Cavaliers will do battle in Charlottesville. Both teams are transitioning from years where they were among the best teams in college basketball to rebuilding seasons, but both have still had their share of success on the court early in the year. Here, the winner of this Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Virginia Cavaliers matchup will have to lock in defensively against an opponent capable of shutting everyone they face down.
Iowa comes into this game with an undefeated record, while Virginia has dropped a couple of games early in the season. But Virginia has played a tougher schedule to this point, which could come in handy in this matchup. Either way, expect one of the more compelling games of the 2021 Big Ten/ACC Challenge when Iowa and Virginia tangle on Monday night.
Iowa Hawkeyes – Unproven Thus Far
The Iowa Hawkeyes have won all six of the games that they have played this season, but they have yet to play a single road game on the year. This game will be their first road test of the season, and it will also be their first test against a Power 5 opponent. Prior to this game, Iowa has fed on smaller schools that aren’t likely to ever threaten a team with the pedigree of the Hawkeyes.
Statistically, the Hawkeyes are lighting it up this year, scoring 97 points per game. But it is worth putting their numbers into the proper context, as Iowa hasn’t played a single opponent that is going to make the NCAA Tournament without making a run through their conference tournament. Against Virginia, they can expect a game against a team with a much better defense than they have played through the first few weeks of the season.
Expected Line-Up: Jordan Bohannon, Joe Toussaint, Filip Rebraca, Patrick McCaffery, Keegan Murray
with best odds
Virginia Cavaliers – Battle Tested, Mixed Results
The Virginia Cavaliers are 5-2 so far this season, suffering a couple of blemishes since the tip off of their season. They dropped their season opener in an upset against the Navy Midshipmen, and lost to a Houston team that made the Final Four last year and could contend for a spot there again this season. For the Cavaliers, the key to every game is their defense, and whether they can generate enough offense to pick up a win.
Virginia is scoring just over 60 points per game, and allowing just under 54 points per game. And if they want to beat Iowa, they are going to need a big performance from Jayden Gardner. Gardner is averaging just over 13 points per game and nearly nine rebounds per contest, and he will need to meet or exceed those averages if the Cavaliers want to beat an Iowa team that will be looking to deliver on the biggest stage of its season so far.
Expected Line-Up: Kihei Clark, Armaan Franklin, Reece Beekman, Jayden Gardner, Kadin Shedrick
Expert Pick #1 – Virginia to Win @ +105
Our first bet for this game will be Virginia to win at +105 odds. As far as this tip is concerned, we are relying on the superior strength of schedule for the Cavaliers to be worth something in this matchup. They will come out sharp, as they have had to stay sharp all season long, whereas Iowa is going to have to adjust to playing at a higher level of competition on the road.
Expert Pick #2 – Virginia +1.5 @ -110
The next bet to make in this matchup is Virginia +1.5 at -110 odds in the point spread market. While this doesn’t carry as much value as the moneyline market, there is still a lot of value to be had both on the moneyline and against the spread with the Cavaliers. This will be their first big home game of the season, following last year’s pandemic-impacted year, and the Cavaliers will take advantage.
Expert Pick #3 – Virginia By 6-10 Points @ +450
Finally, we recommend a bet on Virginia to win by 6-10 points at +450 odds. Virginia should win this game, and should be able to clinch it at the free-throw line late in the contest. If they can get the game to within a few possessions by the end, this bet will cash, and that should happen as their defense and free throw shooting should get them there.
This will be one of the best college basketball games of the week, and the Virginia Cavaliers should be the ones to win it. As slight underdogs, Virginia should have a real advantage against the number and straight up against an Iowa team that isn’t ready for a game like this one.