NCAA Basketball Betting: Virginia vs. Hampton

NCAA Basketball Betting:  Virginia vs. Hampton

This is a lopsided ‘in state rivalry’ game. Virginia is looking *way* ahead to Michigan State and more urgently to potential next opponent Texas Tech or Butler. And while it’s very unlikely that Hampton can give them even a straight up scare at this price they don’t have to for us to cash a ticket.

Virginia was a double digit favorite the last two years in the NCAA tourney first round and failed to cover in both. Part of the problem is simply how the Cavaliers play the game–they’re a defensive oriented team that gives up fewer than 60 PPG (59.7 making them the #3 scoring defense in the country) but the problem this that they score an average of just over 70 PPG. That statistical breakdown might get them a long way in their bracket but it’s not exactly the blueprint for covering a 24 point spread.

Hampton is a small school and we all know the straight up history of the #1 vs. #16 matchup in the NCAA tournament. Hampton sure looks more capable than most #16 seeds and they’re in this role for the second year in a row. Last season, they needed to win a ‘play in game’ against Manhattan and were ‘rewarded’ with a matchup against 35-0 Kentucky. Hampton lost by 23 which isn’t bad against an at the time undefeated Kentucky team that now has 3/5 of their starting lineup playing in the NBA.

Hampton is a non-board team so it’s hard to get much from their ATS numbers but despite the ‘short sample size’ this one jumps right out: Hampton is on a 14-4 ATS run overall including 9-0 against opponents with winning records. They’re the type of team that higher profile opponents look past but they’re a team that isn’t ‘happy to be here’ and will show up and give a prideful performance despite the huge talent disparity.

Virginia has a long history of being a first round tournament underachiever. Since 1997 they’re 6-15 ATS in the first round of tournaments. They’re also 3-6 ATS in all NCAA tournament games during that timeframe. Few things are as miserable than watching a defensive oriented team ‘control tempo’ when you need them to cover a big number. That’s why we’re on the other side.