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Virginia hosts Pittsburgh in ACC Showdown

Atlantic Coast Conference action headlines the Monday college basketball schedule as the Pittsburgh Panthers visit the No. 2 ranked Virginia Cavaliers.

Pittsburgh on the season is 17-9 straight up and 7-15-1 against the spread. The Panthers are 2-7 on the road. Virginia is 23-1 SU and 13-9 ATS. At home, the Cavaliers are 13-1.

Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett installed a mentality of defense first that resonated so well that this No. 2 ranked Cavaliers team prefers to be on defense with the game on the line.

Virginia will face a tough test Monday against a strong Pittsburgh team that had its best performance on offense in its last game.

Virginia is 11-1 in ACC play and gives up the fewest number of points per game of any team in the country at 50.9. The Cavaliers are also No. 3 in the nation in field goal percentage on defense at 35.6%. However, on Saturday, the Cavaliers had a big scare when they needed a steal late in the game to defeat Wake Forest 61-60.

Virginia has won four consecutive games since it only loss of the season against Duke January 31. However, the past three wins have come by just a combined total of 10 points.

Virginia won two defensive struggles last season against Pittsburgh. On February 2, last year, the Cavaliers defeated Pittsburgh 48-45, before beating the Panthers again in the ACC semifinals 51-48.

Pittsburgh has had its ups and downs during the season, but has won 4 of its past 5 overall. They started that run with a 76-72 victory over Notre Dame and on Saturday night beat No. 12 ranked North Carolina 89-76.

On Saturday, the Panthers hit 65% from the field and handed out 30 assists on the night.

Sheldon Jeter had 22 points, which was a career high. Cameron Wright added 15 points and 10 assists. The Panthers are a team on the bubble and the win on Saturday and another against Virginia tonight would look good to the NCAA selection committee when they pick the lineup for March Madness.

Virginia has won two straight without Justin Anderson in the lineup. Anderson fractured his finger on February 7 in a win over Louisville and will miss six weeks.

If Pittsburgh is able to force Virginia to beat them from outside, the Panthers will have a good chance of upsetting the Cavaliers. Over its past 3 games, Virginia is hitting just 16% of its shots from three-point territory.

However, Virginia’s defense is capable of shutting the best of offenses down. The Cavaliers can win their fifth straight with pressure defense and not turning the ball over on offense.

Pick: Pittsburgh 62-61

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