Last Dance: Who's Gonna Be Crowned King of the Prom?
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Then there's the allegedly staid bastion of Eastern Seaboard establishment in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia.
Bobby and Ted Kennedy are alumni. So are Tina Fey and Edgar Allan Poe. It was founded in 1819 by none other than Thomas Jefferson. OG was long gone by 1893, so he never got to call UVa's Cavalier athletic teams the Hoos.
What the Hoos hoopsters have heard over time are screeds of underachievement. For example:
- Their top-ranked, Ralph Sampson-led squad was ambushed in Maui by then-NAIA Chaminade, the bright side of which led to the Silverswords gaining enough cred to create the Maui Invitational; and
- Becoming the first March Madness top seed to lose to a 16-seed.
Virginia's been a poll darling all season long, but during the tournament, dudes have dodged more bullets than Neo.
Now comes the Hoos' biggest challenge of the spring, as well it should, in their attempt to finally claim a national championship that'll atone for all their previous frustrations.
All signs are pointing to this clash being a grinder royale.
Why you should bet on Texas Tech ...
Since that 79-74 loss to West Virginia in the Big XII tournament, the Red Raiders took it as a wake-up call and have turned into a juggernaut. Dudes have dominated their foes in the Dance, going 5-0 both SU and ATS.
No win was as impressive as the 61-51 victory over Michigan State in the Final Four semi-finals. Tech held Sparty to 31.9% shooting from the field and 29.2% shooting from three. They're playing better than Virginia right now, and it could show again tonight.
Why bet on Virginia ...
The Cavaliers have been one of the top teams in college basketball all season long. They battled Duke and North Carolina throughout the ACC regular season while leading the nation in points allowed.
Opponents average 55.5 points per game against them. Dudes hold their opponents to 38.4% from the field and 28.7% from three. In the 63-62 win over Auburn in the semi-finals, they held the Tigers to 38.2% from the field and 29% from three. If they play that type of defense tonight, they could be the team hoisting the hardware.
Instant analysis ...
Frankly, Virginia got lucky at the end against Auburn, as they did in overtime in the Elite Eight after a double-take make against Purdue at the buzzer to tie it after regulation.
But, although that’s true, it doesn’t mean the Hoos can’t beat Texas Tech. Dudes have been the much better team throughout the season; they just find a way.
Texas Tech, though, hasn’t just beaten their Big Dance foes. They’ve dominated. Not only that, there’s a key stat that should hand the Red Raiders the win tonight.
Virginia shoots 39.3% from the arc.
The Cavaliers have used three-point shooting to keep them in games and eke out victories throughout the Madness. Unfortunately for Virginia, the Red Raiders’ three-point defense has been on a different level in the tournament.
Texas Tech held ...
- Michigan to 31.6% from behind the arc,
- Gonzaga to 26.9%, and
- Michigan State to 29.2%.
Unless Virginia suddenly breaks the Red Raiders stranglehold on three-point shooting, Texas Tech should win, and it might not be all that close.
ATS pick: Texas Tech +1
Moneyline pick: Texas Tech
Result: Virginia 85 Texas Tech 77 ot ... Cavaliers cover ATS and Moneyline
Sportbet Columnist: Josh Bailey
Aspiring to become the Mark Twain of sportswriting, Josh has been labelled as the up-&-coming sportswriter of the year by absolutely nobody and the new heavy hitter in sports handicapping by his mother.