The college basketball season all comes down to this. Chris Beard’s #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders (26-5) will battle Tony Bennett’s #1 Virginia Cavaliers (28-2) in the 2019 National Championship game on Monday, April 8th, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Virginia was a short 1-point favorite when the odds first opened, while the total started at a miniscule 118. The game tips off at 9:20 pm ET and, one thing is for certain, about two hours later, we will have a first-time national champion.
Thirty-five schools have won the men’s NCAA Tournament.
On Monday night, there will be a 36th.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, with the first national title in school history on the line.
Meaning: Tony Bennett or Chris Beard will win their first, too.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) April 7, 2019
As suggested by the total, the title game is going to be one of the most epic defensive battles in recent memory. Texas Tech has the #1 rated defense in the history of the KenPom efficiency ratings, while Virginia is fifth, finished first last year, and plays at the slowest pace in all of Division I basketball.
Both of these teams brought their defensive bests to the Final Four. Texas Tech held Cassius Winston and the Michigan State Spartans to a season-low 51 points. Meanwhile, Virginia held the red-hot Auburn Tigers to 62 points and 29% from beyond the arc.
The Virginia vs. Texas Tech over/under (120) is by far the lowest o/u of a national title game in the last 20 years. The closest was 128 in 2006 between Florida and UCLA, per @ESPNStatsInfo.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) April 7, 2019
The Red Raiders distanced the Spartans thanks to some timely three-point shooting. They shot 39% from deep against MSU, led by Matt Mooney who was 4/8 from three and had a team-leading 22 points in the win.
The huge night from Mooney helped make up for a quiet outing from leading scorer Jarrett Culver (18.9 PPG), who had just 10 points on 3/12 from the field.
As a team, Texas Tech is now shooting 44-percent from the floor and 37-percent from three (73rd). After holding MSU to a scant 51 points, Tech’s scoring defense is now second in the country at 59 PPG. (You get one guess which team is first.)
The Red Raiders lost the rebounding battle to the Spartans (36-30), which isn’t a first for this team. They are surprisingly one the worst rebounding teams in the country in terms of total boards, only averaging a little over 32 rebounds a game (204th).
Lucky for Chris Beard, he’ll be facing a Virginia team that isn’t much better on the glass. Virginia only grabs a shade over 33 rebounds per night and ranks 156th in the nation.
UVA somehow lost the rebounding battle to undersized Auburn on Saturday (33-31), even though the Tigers were without leading rebounder Chuma Okeke.
Virginia, which held a ten-point lead with about five minutes to play against the Tigers, once again needed a miracle comeback in the dying minutes to advance.
Down four with less than 10 seconds to play, Kyle Guy kept them alive with a three-ball that trimmed the lead to one. After Auburn missed a free throw at the other end, Guy was fouled on a three-point attempt with less than a second to go.
Trailing by two with effectively no time on the clock, the junior calmly stepped up and drilled all three free throws to put UVA through to the title game.
While the final score against Auburn was relatively low — and stayed well under the 132-point game total — Virginia’s offense was not terrible. They hit 49% from the field and 36.8% from three. They now sit 3rd in offensive efficiency at KenPom, 25 spots higher than Texas Tech (28th).
While their defense is only fifth in efficiency, it’s also first in the country in terms of points against (55 PPG).
Betting Trends: Texas Tech vs Virginia
Against the spread, Virginia has been a tremendous bet all year, going 25-12-0 ATS. That said, they have covered just two of five tournament games so far. Meanwhile, Texas Tech is a mediocre 19-16-1 ATS overall, but 5-0 against the number in the tournament.
See the complete slate of odds, the line movement, and the over/under prediction for Texas Tech vs Virginia in the tables above. As always, good luck with your wagers.