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Virginia Tech Hokies vs Pittsburgh Panthers Betting Preview | Feb. 3

The No. 16 Virginia Tech Hokies try to stay close — or move into — first place in the ACC on Wednesday night when they take on the host Pittsburgh Panthers. Virginia Tech (13-3) is 7-2 in league play after an upset of No. 14 Virginia last weekend, pulling to within a half-game of the Cavaliers at the top of the conference. Let’s take a look at the Virginia Tech Hokies vs Pittsburgh Panthers betting odds and our expert picks.

With Virginia also playing on Wednesday night, a Hokies win and a Cavaliers loss would push coach Mike Young‘s squad into first place.

Cameron Wright of Pittsburgh handles the ball against Hockies. Here's our Virginia Tech Hokies vs Pittsburgh Panthers betting preview
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images/AFP

Standing in Virginia Tech’s way is Pittsburgh (8-5), which is sitting at 4-4 against ACC opponents, which puts it in a three-way tie for eighth along with Syracuse and Georgia Tech. If the Panthers want to make a push for an NCAA March Madness berth, a home win against the Hokies would be a good start.

If you’re betting online on this contest, Virginia Tech is a four-point favorite, with the over/under set at 135½.

Starting To Roll

Virginia Tech has won two straight and five of six, but the one loss in that stretch was on the road to Syracuse, one of the teams tied with Pittsburgh. Still, after giving up 78 points to the Orange, the Hokies came back with back-to-back defensive efforts of holding opponents (Notre Dame, Virginia) to 51 points apiece.

That was the first time Virginia Tech had held two ACC opponents to that point total or less in consecutive games. The Hokies now rank third in the conference, allowing just 63.8 points per game.

Offensively, the story of the Virginia game was the play of Keve Aluma, who had 29 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists in the comeback victory. The junior forward leads the Hokies with 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, while also pacing the team with 1.4 blocks a night. His presence in the paint will be big against the Panthers.

Sophomore guard Hunter Cattoor had 15 points off the bench in the win over the Cavaliers, but there are several players who can step up and have big offensive games for the Hokies. Sophomore guards Tyrece Radford (11.1 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Nahiem Alleyne (10.3 points) are the other two players scoring in double figures, but seven different players are scoring at least 7.5 points per game.

Looking For Some Hope

A win over Duke on Jan. 19 put Pittsburgh at 4-1 in ACC play and gave the Panthers some hope of contending for the league’s top spot. But three consecutive losses later, including the last two at home, have coach Jeff Capel’s team needing a win in the worst way.

The losses have gotten progressively worse as well, with the latest being a 26-point setback to Notre Dame, which held the Panthers to just 58 points and 31.5% shooting from the field. Another loss against the Hokies, coupled with a forced layoff due to the postponement of this weekend’s game with Florida State, would leave the Panthers going close to a month without a victory.

To get back to winning, Pittsburgh is going to need a big game from sophomore swingman Justin Champagnie (20.1 points, 12.1 rebounds), who leads the ACC with seven double-doubles this season. Champagnie must be a force at both ends of the floor to keep the Panthers in this one.

Another key will be the play of junior swingman Au’Diese Toney, who is contributing 14.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Not allowing the Virginia Tech defense to focus on just one scorer will help open everyone up for good looks.

Speaking of getting people good looks, junior guard Xavier Johnson has been making college basketball news as he continues to lead the ACC in assists per game with 6.1. Johnson is also contributing 13.2 points, and his play against a tough Virginia Tech defense will set the tone for Pittsburgh.

Hokies Win Close One

Pittsburgh is going to be playing desperate in this one, knowing it has to get a win to turn its season back around. The Panthers have the firepower to play with Virginia Tech, but they need to be efficient early and not fall behind, leading to a defeated mindset.

The Hokies are feeling good after knocking off Virginia over the weekend, and they have first place in sight. Virginia Tech doesn’t want to have a letdown, especially with a favorable schedule left, with the only remaining opponent that is ranked being Florida State.

Pick

When you’re making your college basketball picks, stick with the favorite. Take Virginia Tech even if you’re giving up some points on the road.

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