The University of Virginia is wearing the bulls-eye of the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the ACC champions take on No. 16 seed Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday night in South Region action. The Cavaliers head into this matchup as top March Madness odds favorites.
Virginia vs. UMBC 2018 March Madness Odds & First Round Game Info
Why Bet on UMBC?Under Ryan Odom, for the first time in 32 years of NCAA Division I play, UMBC has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons. They recorded back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 campaigns. The 45 wins over the last two seasons has surpassed the program’s previous best two-year DI total of 39 (’07-’08/’08-’09). UMBC won a total of 41 games in the seven previous seasons.Maryland-Baltimore County (24-10) was second to Vermont in the America East regular-season standings but upset the Catamounts in the tournament final, 65-62. Jarius Lyles had 27 points and hit a long 3-pointer with less than a second left. Second-seeded UMBC had lost 23 straight times to the Catamounts over the last 10 years, including twice this season by a combined 45 points. But with Lyles scoring 27 points, the Retrievers rallied to earn their first NCAA Tournament trip since 2008. Vermont (27-7) led 57-48, but didn’t make a basket in the final 8:21.Lyles was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He averaged 19.8 points over the Retrievers’ three tournament games. He was joined on the All-Championship team by teammates senior guard K.J. Maura and freshman forward Daniel Akin.Lyles is more than just the guy who made the big shot to clinch UMBC’s spot in the tourney. The senior guard also leads the Retrievers in scoring and steals, while grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game, despite standing only 6-foot-2. The Retrievers defense forces opponents to turn the ball over. The Retrievers are here in part because of their three-point shooting. They make more than 10 a game, top 20 in the country, and shoot it well, 38.5%. However, UMBC is not big, which will be an issue in the tournament.UMBC led the America East in defensive turnover rate, thanks to the pressure applied by lightning- quick guards. Both Lyles and K.J. Maura averaged more than two steals per game this season, ranking 2nd and 3rd in the conference in steal rate.Projected starting lineup: G Jairus Lyles, 6-2, Sr. (20.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 80.4 FT%); G K.J. Maura, 5-8, Sr. (11.4 ppg, 5.2 apg, 42.3 3FG%, 86.8 FT%); F Joe Sherburne, 6-6, Jr. (10-9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 42.3 3FG%); F Arkel Lamar, 6-5, So. (10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 43.2 3FG%); F Daniel Akin, 6-9, Fr. (3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 65.7 FG%).
Why Bet on Virginia?Unranked to start the season and picked to finish sixth in the ACC, the Virginia Cavaliers went 17-1 in the ACC regular season to easily capture the title in the country’s most rough-and-tumble league. Top-seeded Virginia (31-2) defeated UNC, 71-63 to capture the ACC Tournament on March 10.UVA has won eight straight since a 61-60 overtime loss to Virginia Tech on Feb. 10. The Cavs are the top defensive team in the nation, allowing only 53.4 points per game. UVA has a defensive efficiency rating of 84.4 according to Ken Pomeroy’s system. That’s the number of points this defense allows per 100 possessions this season, and an 84.4 is the second-lowest mark for any Division I team since 2002.Virginia scores 67.5 points per contest and only turns the ball over 8.6 times per game. Sophomore guard Kyle Guy leads a balanced attack with 14.1 points per game. The Cavaliers play at the slowest rate of play out of all 351 Division I college basketball teams. Virginia’s unique pack line defense forces opponents to use nearly all of the 30-second shot clock each trip down the floor. UVA also turned the ball over fewer than any team in the country. That means foes are getting fewer fast-break opportunities against Virginia than anyone else.UVA’s chances of winning its first national title took a hit Tuesday with the news that freshman De’Andre Hunter, who won the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, will miss the NCAA tournament due to a broken wrist suffered in the ACC tournament. The 6-foot-9 Hunter, who averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds coming off the bench, is expected to be out 10-12 weeks. Hunter is expected to be one of the team’s big stars next season.He’ll be the first UVA. player this season to miss a game because of injury. Hunter’s broken wrist also means UVA will head into its third NCAA tournament in the last four seasons while dealing with a significant injury. In the 2015 tournament, starting guard Justin Anderson had a broken finger that required surgery, and starting forward Isaiah Wilkins had a lingering illness in last season’s tournament that limited him to five minutes in the first round and kept him out completely in the second round.Virginia has taken all three meetings vs. UMBC, although the two squads have not tipped off since a 77-66 Cavalier victory in December of 2005. That contest was played at VCU.Projected starting lineup: G Kyle Guy, 6-2, So. (14.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 83.7 FT%); G Devon Hall, 6-5, Sr. (12.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 45.2 3FG%, 89.4 FT%); G Ty Jerome, 6-5, So. (10.5 ppg, 3.9 apg, 90.2 FT%); F Isaiah Wilkins, 6-7, Sr. (5.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.5 bpg); C Jack Salt, 6-10, Jr. (3.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 65.0 FG%).
Latest March Madness Odds Trends
- Retrievers are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- Retrievers are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- UMBC is 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games.
- Cavaliers are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
- Virginia is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 Friday games.