March Madness: Sweet 16 Betting Tips - Virginia vs. Oregon


Virginia Cavaliers

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

When Virginia made dubious history last year by being the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a 16th seed, it was an embarrassment that unofficially started their 2018-19 season. The Cavaliers have played with a purpose all season, ranking third in both adjusted offense and defense by analytics rankings, which is why the metrics made them the favorite to win it all in the tournament. Their only losses came to Duke (twice) and Florida State in the ACC Tournament – both teams whose own title hopes still remain alive in the Sweet 16 round.

However, when the Cavs fell behind to 28-14 to Gardner-Webb in their first-round game, it looked as though lightning could strike twice in the UVA locker room. But, a 23-3 run over eight minutes of the second half ended that concern in a 71-56 victory and an 18-2 run in the first half against Oklahoma effectively did in the Sooners in a 63-51 win.

While the offense had to click to make those epic scoring runs happen, it was defense that set it up – Virginia’s calling card all season. The Cavs have held opponents to under 60 points in 26 games. They’re 26-0 in those games. It’s not a coincidence. Virginia plays as good of team defense as anyone in the tournament field and it creates scoring opportunities for its offense.

When it comes to scoring, Virginia has a three-headed beast of sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter (15.2 ppg), junior guard Kyle Guy (15.1), and junior guard Ty Jerome (13.0). The team is set up to succeed even if one of the Big Three struggles, which has happened with Guy. UVA’s leading scorer most of the season has just 12 points through two games – making just 4-of-23 shots from the floor and is just 1-15 from 3-point range. Yet, the team has survived and thrived despite getting shockingly little from one of its go-to scorers.

Oregon Ducks

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, it would appear that Virginia would have a pass into the Elite Eight against 12th seeded Oregon, but the Ducks have turned their season around like few teams in recent memory. On March 24, they won their way into the Sweet 16. On Feb. 24, they appeared dead in the water. With leading scorer Bol Bol out for the year after nine games with foot surgery and coming off a three-game losing streak, on Feb. 24, the Ducks were 15-12 and 6-8 in the conference. On paper, there tournament hopes were on life support.

But, games aren’t played on paper and the Ducks have effectively been facing the one-and-done scenario of the NCAA Tournament ever since. Oregon had to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make the NCAA field and they did just that. Not only have the Ducks won 10 straight games, they’ve outscored their opponents by an average of 18 points a game and are among the hottest teams in the remaining field, even as the lone double-digit seed left.

The Ducks have rolled through their first two opponents, taking down fifth-seeded Wisconsin by 18 points (72-54) and UC-Irvine by 19 (73-54). The emerging star has been junior guard Payton Pritchard, who has led the Ducks with 37 points and 15 assists in Oregon’s two tournament wins. Freshman forward Louis King has also stepped up in the clutch, scoring 33 points, including 7-of-10 from 3-point land. Both of them sparked a second-half 18-2 run against Wisconsin to blow that game open and a 16-4 run in the first half against the Anteaters to take control of the game and dictate the tempo after that. Defensively, sophomore forward Kenny Wooten has been one of the most valuable players in the tournament, recording a whopping 11 blocked shots.

Under ordinary circumstances, a No. 1 seed going up against a 12th seed would lean toward the lopsided, but Oregon has been as hot as any team in the country over the last month and Virginia will have to be on top of its game to keep their streak from going to 11 Spinal Tap-style.

Virginia vs. Oregon: By the numbers

Virginia (31-3): Against the Spread (24-10); Over/Under (16-18, 47.1 percent over, 52.9 percent under); Oregon (25-12): Against the Spread (22-15); Over/Under (13-23-1, 36.1 percent over, 63.9 percent under).

Virginia vs. Oregon: Betting Predictions

Oregon is the only seed lower than a 5 remaining in the tournament. In a year of chalk being the order of the day, they’re the lone (somewhat) Cinderella remaining. But, the clock should strike midnight on their dream as the Cavaliers use a smothering, physical defense to take one step closer to erasing the memory of their early exit last year and move on to the Elite Eight with a double-digit win based on its strong defense creating offense. But an over/under of just 118.5, it’s hard not to take the over because both teams are capable of putting up enough points, especially if UVA gets up by double digits and plans change.

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