It’s a bit of a David vs Goliath matchup on Sunday when the #12 Liberty Flames (25-6) face the #4 Virginia Tech Hokies (23-7) at SAP Center in Round of 32 March Madness action. Liberty started as 9-point underdogs with the total set at 126 and tip-off scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
The Flames are significant underdogs notwithstanding the that that they’re awfully capable at both ends. They enter the game scoring 74 PPG, which ranks number 134 in the nation, and are productive on most of their trips down the court, sitting 26th in per-possession offensive efficiency. They shoot 45-percent from the floor and 37-percent from three (65th).
They are just as potent on defense, giving up 61 PPG, number 5 in the nation, and sitting 9th in defensive rating. The 9-point spread says more about Virginia Tech than it does about Liberty.
On offense, they are paced by Scottie James, who’s pouring in a team-best 13 points per game. James does double-duty as the team’s leader on the boards, pulling down 9 rebounds a night.
The Flames are one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, however, only managing 30 rebounds per game (280th). They need to shoot well to win since they don’t get a lot of second chances.
Liberty is coming off an 80-76 upset over #5 Mississippi State. Caleb Homesley led the team in that one with a huge 30 points, making up for a quiet night from James (6 points).
The Flames will be facing a Virginia Tech team that is dynamic offensively, ranked 9th in offensive rating. They average 74 points per game, which is only 129th overall, but that’s only because they play at an uber-slow tempo. They shoot a proficient 45-percent from the field, 40-percent from three (5th), and 76-percent from the stripe (17th).
Make no mistake, this team can fill the basket.
The Hokies aren’t quite as impressive defensively, but they’re still strong, sitting 53rd in defensive rating while allowing 62 PPG.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker has led the charge on offense, pouring in 17 points per game, while Kerry Blackshear Jr. leads the Hokies in rebounds, grabbing 7 RPG.
But, as a team, Virginia Tech is frighteningly bad on the boards, averaging 30 RPG, which is 315th in America. Liberty has the advantage on the boards, even though that’s not their forte either.
The Hokies are coming off a W last time out, beating Saint Louis 66-52. Alexander-Walker led the team in scoring, as usual, dropping 20 points in the win. Just as importantly, Justin Robinson looked decent in his first game back from injury, coming off the bench to score 9 points in 28 minutes.
When it comes to the spread, Virginia Tech has been profitable, going 17-14-1 ATS. But tread carefully because Liberty is a solid 21-14-0 ATS, itself. Both squads have been better than expected this year, at least compared to the expectations of oddsmakers.
See the latest odds, spread, and score prediction for Liberty vs Virginia Tech in the tables, above, and good luck with your wagers.