The madness is nearly complete, as there are just two teams remaining in the Big Dance. Texas Tech and Virginia will be battling it out for an opportunity to cut down the nets and hoist their first NCAA National Championship trophy in program history. The game will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Here is our betting preview for tonight’s title game.
The stakes couldn’t be any higher tonight, as both programs have never won a national title in men’s basketball. That means we are guaranteed to have a first-time champion crowned this evening, which makes the game even more exciting. The storylines don’t just end there, either. Last year, Texas Tech made it all the way to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual champion Villanova, after coming so close to reaching their first-ever Final Four. Now, head coach Chris Beard and his Red Raiders are in the Final Four, looking to become the first team since UConn in 1999 to win the whole thing in their first trip. On the other side, Virginia is making their first title game appearance since 1984. More importantly, tonight will be the culmination of a long, exhausting redemption tour for the Cavaliers, who became the first one-seed ever to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history in the opening round of last year’s Dance. One year later, Tony Bennett has his guys ready to erase all doubt about whether or not Virginia belongs in the discussion as one of the best college basketball programs in the country.
“Defense wins championships.” We’ve all heard the age-old saying before. Well, the cliché expression could not be more true tonight. The Cavaliers and Red Raiders represent two of the best defensive programs in Division I. In fact, UVA finished the season with the top scoring defense in the nation, while Texas Tech ranked third in the same category. They allowed just 55.5 and 58.8 points per game, respectively.
Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver struggled in the semifinal match against Michigan State; however, he took over down the stretch, nailing a dagger three-pointer at the top of the key to seal the win for Texas Tech. One of the keys to victory for the Red Raiders could be grad transfer Matt Mooney, who single-handedly kept Tech in the game against the Spartans, tying a season-high with 22 points. On the other side, all the talk was about Kyle Guy, who hit a big shot down the stretch before drawing the controversial foul call that led to three made free throws and the win for UVA. With that being said, Ty Jerome was the most important player on the floor for the Cavaliers. Jerome finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead his team to the National Championship. Another player to watch for Virginia is De’Andre Hunter, who rebounded from his poor shooting performances earlier in the tournament to score 14 points on 63.6 percent shooting from the field.
According to FanDuel, Virginia is favored by 1.5 points against Texas Tech tonight. As we alluded to before, this should be a fairly low-scoring contest, considering the manner in which these teams play. With both teams looking to slow down the pace and dictate the tempo, it shouldn’t be surprising that the over/under is set at 118 points. Yes, you read that correctly. The National Championship point total is barely more than the average of most NBA teams.
So far this tournament, these teams have been opposite of their regular season identities, in terms of sports betting. On one hand, Virginia was among the best cover teams in the country. The Cavs covered at a rate of 67.6 percent, which was good for tenth in the nation. During March Madness, they are just 2-3 against the spread, having to sneak by teams like Oregon, Purdue and Auburn. On the other side, Texas Tech was not as strong at covering the spread during the regular season, but they’ve been elite in the Big Dance. The Red Raiders are 5-0 ATS this tournament, winning by an average of 14 points per game. The most intriguing bet in this game would have to be betting on Texas Tech on the money line. With a slim 1.5-point spread at -110 odds, you stand to win more by taking the Raiders to win the game at +105 odds. Of course, UVA has shown the ability to win tight ball games this tournament, but Texas Tech has dominated some of the best teams in the country, showing that they are in the zone lately. A 19-point victory over Michigan and a 10-point win against Michigan State shows that they are not only capable of defeating elite teams, but they can dominate them on both ends of the court.