Virginia Listed as NCAA Tournament Favorite After Duke Falls

The Virginia Cavaliers are the only no. 1 seed who made it to the Final Four. Photo from @QWorldNews1 (Twitter)
  • Duke, the NCAA Men’s Tournament favorite, fell in the Elite 8 to Michigan State
  • Virginia is the only no. 1 seed who made the Final Four
  • The Cavaliers are new favorites to win the tournament

After a first weekend full of chalk and lacking drama, this year’s NCAA Tournament felt far too predictable. Fast forward a week and suddenly there’s a single 1-seed left and two programs who have never even reached the Final Four still dancing.

Give Virginia credit, they followed up the most humiliating loss in tourney history last year with a trip to Minneapolis. That’s the best way to erase the sting of getting blown out by a 16-seed last year.

The Cavaliers also now have the best odds to win the NCAA Men’s Tournament of the quartet in the Twin Cities.

2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament Odds

Team Odds
Virginia +150
Michigan State +200
Texas Tech +450
Auburn +500

*Odds taken April 1

Virginia Favored

Is Tony Bennett’s squad a good bet at this price? I don’t think so.

While the Cavs have answered the questions of whether they could rebound emotionally from last year, their path hasn’t been a dominating one.

Virginia drew 12-seeded Oregon in the Sweet 16, as the Ducks were the lowest seed left on the second weekend. While UVA took care of business, it wasn’t a very impressive effort.

Both teams struggled offensively, and Virginia held on 53-49. The ‘Hoos scored only 23 points in the second half, and shot just 35% from the field for the entire game.

That type of lethargic performance is always lurking in the weeds for the Cavs, and they followed it up by failing to crack 30 points in the first half against Purdue.

The Boilermakers looked to have the win locked up, leading by three with just six seconds to go. But a series of crazy plays ripped the game away from Purdue and sent it to overtime.

Ty Jerome needed to make the first free throw, miss the second, have the rebound punched out beyond the arc, Kihei Clark to track down the ball, get a bullet pass to split the defense, and then Mamadi Diakite knock down a jumper to save the game.

Without any one of those things, UVA is home on the couch with us.

There’s not enough of a separation from the rest of the pack for me to make Virginia a solid favorite of this group. Yes, they are the only 1-seed left, but the Cavs have yet to truly play like a dominant team in this tournament.

Next up, they’ll face an Auburn team that is scorching hot. The Tigers blew through the SEC Tournament, then blew out the top-seeded Tar Heels in the Sweet 16. Auburn followed that up with a gutsy performance against Kentucky, getting revenge on the Wildcats from the regular season.

The Tigers are a scary matchup for UVA because of their breakneck pace and terrific guard play.

Auburn Offering Great Value

This makes the Tigers the best play right now. The general populace will load up on Virginia and Michigan State because of name recognition.

The Cavaliers have been a high seed the last handful of years, and play in the most decorated college basketball conference. The Spartans are heading to their eighth Final Four under Tom Izzo, and searching for a third national championship. The country knows those two brands, and they’ll bet accordingly.

But Auburn and Texas Tech’s value are just a far better proposition. The separation between these four teams is minute.

The Tigers can score with anyone (even without Chuma Okeke) and Texas Tech’s defense may very well swallow the Spartans. It’s not crazy to think that would be the title game matchup, leaving the favorites on the outside looking in.

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