Saturday’s Final Four produced a little late-game controversy, but top-seeded Virginia prevailed over Auburn to advance to tonight’s NCAA Championship Game. The Cavaliers are set to play fellow defensive dominator Texas Tech at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:20 p.m. ET.
Five best bets for Virginia vs. Texas Tech
1. Virginia vs. Texas Tech — UNDER 118
The projected pace, stats, matchups, and coaching suggest a very low-scoring game between the Cavaliers and Red Raiders. We’re looking at the lowest over/under in NCAA Championship Game history as both squads are top-five in adjusted defensive efficiency. Then, both also rank top-three in the country in scoring defense, allowing 58 points per game or fewer.
Virginia has played four games UNDER the total during the NCAA Tournament, and Tech has been the most dominant team in the tournament holding all five opponents to at least 19 points per game below their season averages. That includes top offensive teams Buffalo, Michigan State, and Gonzaga, the nation’s No. 1 rated offense by KenPom.
Virginia’s 53-49 win over Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen really stands out, as the Ducks were limited to just 45 FG attempts. So does Texas Tech’s 63-44 win over Michigan in a game between two elite defenses that produced just 40 points in the first half. Tech’s 61-51 win over Michigan State is another matchup and score to note.
Historical totals are noted for bettors, as since 2005, the UNDER is 7-2 when the total is set at 130 or less in Final Four and National Championship games.
2. Texas Tech to Outscore Virginia in the Second Half (ATS)
Despite all the success and respect for Virginia and elite coach Tony Bennett, this Texas Tech tidbit on the Red Raiders and coach Chris Beard cannot be ignored: under Beard, Texas Tech is 9-0 against the second-half spread in the NCAA Tournament. They cover it by 7.9 points per game.
The Red Raiders are also 24-4 ATS in second halves vs. non-conference opponents on the road or neutral courts under Beard. The Red Raiders are outscoring NCAA Tournament opponents by 10 points per game in the second half.
3. Largest lead by either team (11.5) — UNDER (-110)
We barely got burned on this prop in the Final Four when Texas Tech nabbed a second-half lead of 13 points over MSU. The prop was UNDER 12.5, and the game was tight most the way. Now we get a similar situation with two elite defenses: No. 1 (Tech) and No. 5 (Virginia) in adjusted defensive efficiency. Plus, the pace will be super slow with many shots late in the clock. I don’t see either team separating too much.
4. Total points by Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite (7½) — OVER
Prior to scoring just two points against Auburn in the Final Four game, Diakite had seven points against Oregon’s stronger, slowdown defense. He’d put up 14, 14, and 17 points in the other NCAA Tournament games.
Diakite has stopped trying to be a perimeter shooter and limited his shots to the low post. The Red Raiders are an elite defense that defends the middle of the floor first and plays stifling help defense. But the Cavs are going to try to get Diakite more shots inside in this closely contested contest, and we’ll make a play over 7.5 points, counting on his 8 rebounds per game during the NCAA Tournament to add a few on the offensive end to produce points.
5. Total points by Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti (10.5) — UNDER
Moretti had just five points on 2-of-6 shooting against Michigan State, and he did not attempt a free throw. The sharp-shooting guard had a personal NCAA Tournament high of 15 points against Michigan, but that was still on strong shooting with five made baskets on just seven FG attempts.
Moretti will not be a first or second scoring option in this game, and against a Virginia defense among the best defending the perimeter, this looks like a strong play against Moretti’s scoring total.