Either way, defense will win out in NCAA final

April 6, 2019 11:14 PM

Defense is going to win another championship. Which defense will cash tickets for bettors in Monday night’s college basketball showdown featuring Virginia and Texas Tech (CBS, 9 p.m. ET)?

Opening lines for were up moments after Saturday’s Final Four finished. Offshore early birds posted Virginia -1.5. First money hit Texas Tech. Las Vegas books either opened at Virginia -1 or -1.5. based on how they anticipated their clientele were likely to bet. 

Oddsmakers anticipated another defensive struggle with a low opening Over/Under of 120.5. These are two of the top five pace-adjusted defenses in the country. Under money dropped the number to 119. Sharps were happy to go 120 or more out of the gate given expectations for another very slow game featuring brick walls who know how to get stops. 

Movement on the side and/or total isn’t out of the question between now and tip off. The public may be tempted to bet a hyped ACC power at a cheap price against a “blue collar” opponent that feels overdue to run out of gas. Though, a quick look at Saturday’s key stats and recent form suggests Texas Tech may be the better “playoff style” team. 

Virginia (-6) beat Auburn 63-62.

This point spread rose to as high as Virginia -6.5 in some spots on news that Auburn stars Jared Harper and Bryce Brown were battling the flu. A slow pace (just 59 possessions per team) helped those two contribute (and Auburn bettors cash their tickets!). 

No reason to rehash the dramatic and controversial ending. Virginia did win two-point shooting 56-50%, and three-point shooting 37-29%...but had to survive a third straight nail biter. At the end of regulation, Virginia has been only four points better than #12 seed Oregon, dead even with #3 seed Purdue, and one point better than #5 seed Auburn. The Cavaliers will need to lift their game against the best defense they’ve seen in the postseason since losing to Florida State in the ACC semifinals. 

Texas Tech (plus 2) beat Michigan State 61-51.

A bit of a surprise that the public didn’t embrace the inexpensive favorite in game-day betting. Both sharps and recreational players alike loved Texas Tech at 3, and still saw value at 2.5. They were right!

Texas Tech won two-point shooting 46-35%, and three-point shooting 39-29%. This was also a very slow wrestling match, with 60 possessions per team. 

The Red Raiders have faced a much tougher gauntlet than the Cavaliers. Tech just scored outright upsets over #2 seed Michigan, #1 seed Gonzaga, and #2 seed Michigan State. Most impressively, Tech won the second halves of those stiff tests by scores of 39-28, 40-32, and 38-30. Impressive offense and defense in consecutive crunch times. 

If both teams bring their most recent form, Tech is arguably a slight favorite. But, if Tech finally runs out of gas trying to reach peak defensive intensity for the fourth time in less than two weeks against a brutal schedule, patient Virginia will make the Red Raiders pay. 

VSiN wishes you best of luck with your championship bets!

 

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