Virginia Heavily Favored to Win South Region of 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament Ahead of Sweet 16

Kyle Guy Virginia Cavaliers basketball
The Virginia Cavaliers and guard Kyle Guy are seeking to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1984. Photo from Tony20244369 (Twitter)
  • Top seed Virginia is through to the NCAA Tournament South Region semifinals
  • Second-seeded Tennessee and no. 3 Purdue clash in the other semifinal
  • See the odds to win the South region of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament entering the Sweet 16

The way the NCAA Tournament’s South Region is shaking out, you have to wonder if the basketball gods are finally going to let things go the way of the Virginia Cavaliers. And sportsbooks seem to agree.

Of the four no. 1 seeds left, only East Region-favored Duke Blue Devils (-165) are given better odds of advancing to the Final Four than Virginia.

Odds to Win 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament South Region

Team Odds
Virginia -120
Tennessee +325
Purdue +350
Oregon +800

*Odds taken March 25

The Cavaliers most recently played in the Final Four in 1984.

Books opened with the Cavs as +140 chalk to be South Region winners. The odds on Tennessee (+300) and Purdue (+450) haven’t moved much. But Oregon did open with +4000 odds.

Virginia Hasn’t Gone South

Last season, the Cavaliers made some NCAA Tournament history. Falling 74-54 to UMBC in the opening round of March Madness, Virginia became the first no. 1 seed ever to lose to a 16-seed.

When the top-seeded Cavs fell 14 points behind to no. 16 Gardner-Webb in this year’s opening-round game, people wondered whether history was about to repeat itself.

But Virginia stormed back to win 71-56.

Virginia gritted out a 63-51 second-round win against Oklahoma, even though guard Kyle Guy missed 13-of-15 from the floor. Mamadi Diakite started at center instead of Jack Salt and scored 14 points, well above his season average of 7.9.

The Ugly Ducklings

You have to give the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee their props, because the form charts have mostly held. You’ve got 1-2-3-4 left in the East and West and 1-2-3-5 remaining in the Midwest.

The Oregon Ducks are the exception to the rule. The 12-seed in the South, the Ducks stunned fifth-seeded Wisconsin in the opening round and easily handled UC Irvine in Round 2, halting a 17-game winning streak by the Anteaters.

Forward Kenny Wooten had seven blocks in the win over UC Irvine.

The Ducks were 15-12 when they launched a run that has reached 10 consecutive wins, including the Pac-12 Tournament championship. They have size, speed and an outstanding outside shooting game.

This is the sixth time in seven years that the Ducks have played in March Madness, and it’s their fourth visit to the Sweet 16 in that span. They were a Final Four team in 2016-17.

Outlined In Chalk

The other side of the South Region bracket held form and will pit the no. 2 Tennessee Volunteers against the no. 3 Purdue Boilermakers.

The Volunteers didn’t exactly make believers out of anyone that they are legit in their second-round game when they squandered a 25-point lead and needed overtime to get past Iowa 83-77.

Tennessee opened the season 23-1, but are 8-4 since and 2-4 in that span against ranked teams.

The Boilermakers are 3-2 in their last five. They lost to Minnesota in the regular-season finale when victory would have given them the outright Big Ten title, and also fell to the Golden Gophers in the opening Big Ten Tournament game.

Who Will Rise in the South?

Virginia’s history is troubling. This is the fourth time since 2014 that the Cavaliers have been a 1-seed, and they’ve never advanced beyond the Elite Eight.

Tennessee has gone to the Elite Eight once, in 2010. Purdue’s last Final Four appearance was in 1979-80.

If you backed Oregon at the start of March Madness, the Ducks were +4000 to survive the South Region. They are still a great price at +800.

There’s been a double-digit seed in two of the last three Final Fours. The Ducks will make it three of four.

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