Defense is King as Cavaliers and Red Raiders Square Off in Championship Game
The Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Virginia Cavaliers will meet on Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium. They are two of the best defensive teams in the country. They will be vying for their first national championship in the NCAA Tournament title game.
Virginia has limited opponents to a national-best 55.5 points per game and 38.4 percent shooting. The Red Raiders advanced to the final by holding Michigan State to 31.9 percent from the field in Saturday’s 61-51 victory.
The Cavaliers and Red Raiders have never met. The over-under betting total of 118.5, is already down from the opening line of 119, marks the lowest number since Florida-UCLA (128) in 2006.
The Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed in history to lose to a 16th seed in last season’s tournament. They made up for it this year. The team needed three free throws from junior guard Kyle Guy with less than one second left to beat Auburn 63-62 in the semifinals. Texas Tech lost five of its top six scorers from last season’s Elite Eight team. They leaned on its stifling defense that only gave up 58.8 points per game and 36.8 percent shooting. With the emergence of Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver, who chips in 18.6 ppg, it was just the right remedy for them to catapult into the National Championship game. Third-year coach Chris Beard molded the team into one capable of being something special. The team bought into the defense theory during the summer and look where it has taken them.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
Texas Tech is 31-6 heading into tonight’s championship game. Mooney averages 11.3 points overall, drained 4-of-8 from 3-point range Saturday in the win. Culver finished with 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Guard Davide Moretti saw his streak of 11 straight double-figure games end with five in the semifinal. Guard Brandone Francis scored nine off the bench against Michigan State. Forward Tariq Owens, who averages 8.8 points and a team-high 2.5 blocks, suffered an ankle injury in the second half Saturday. He was able to return to the floor and should be fine tonight.
Virginia is 34-3 on the season. Guy struggled shooting in the first three games of the tournament, going 8-for-38 overall and 3-for-26 from 3-point range. He has warmed up the last two games going 13-for-30 with 7-for-18, while averaging 20 points. Guy leads the team overall with 15.2 ppg. Swingman De’Andre Hunter chips in 14.9 ppg. He missed last year’s tournament with an injury. He scored 14 on 7-of-11 shooting from the field in Saturday’s victory. Jerome averages 13.5 points and a team-high 5.4 assists per game. He scored 24 in the South Region final against Purdue. He then led the way with 21 points to go along with nine boards and six assists in the semifinals. Jerome drained four 3-pointers for the second straight game.
Prediction: Virginia 57, Texas Tech 53.
NCAA Basketball Trends
- Trend Over is 5-2 in Cavaliers last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 7.0-12.5. Hit % 71.40% (7) O/U 5|2 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 5-1 in Cavaliers last 6 games as a favorite of 13.0 or greater. 83.30% (6) 1|5 0
- Under is 4-1 in Cavaliers last 5 neutral site games as a favorite. 80.00% (5) 1|4 0
- Under is 9-2 in Cavaliers last 11 games as an underdog of 13.0 or greater. 81.80% (11) 2|9 0
Texas Tech Trends
- Trend Under is 11-5 in Red Raiders last 16 games as a favorite of 13.0 or greater. Hit % 68.80% (16) O/U 1|5 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 11-4 in Red Raiders last 15 neutral site games as a favorite. 73.30% (15) 1|4 0
- Under is 6-1 in Red Raiders last 7 games as an underdog of 13.0 or greater. 85.70% (7) 2|9 0
- Under is 4-1 in Red Raiders last 5 games as a favorite of 7.0-12.5. 80.00% (5) 1|4 0
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