Motivation, experience, and depth will see Virginia make a deep run into the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. The program is currently +2000 odds at 5Dimes to win the national title, the eighth betting choice overall. This is trending up from a +1500 offering in mid May.
The Cavaliers are driven to rescript their historic 74-54 loss to University of Maryland, Baltimore County last year, the first one seed to fall to a 16 seed in NCAA tournament history. UVA tipped off a 20.5-point favorite in defeat. “We have the power to respond however we want,” head coach Tony Bennett lamented after the historic loss. Reports suggest the response is one of inspiration in Charlottesville.
The Cavaliers have tipped off at +2000 preseason odds or less to win the national championship just once under Bennett in 2015. They cruised to a 29-8 SU record, and advanced to the Elite Eight as an at-large No. 1 seed before losing to Syracuse. It was UVA’s farthest run in the tournament in over 20 years. The program hasn’t reached the Final Four since 1984 and has never won the national title. Bennett is looking to re-write history.
Experience Equals Success
Bennett returns his top three scorers from last year with wingman De’Andre Hunter opting out of an early entry into the NBA Draft because of a wrist injury. Hunter, a projected first-round pick, joins returning guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome to become one of the top backcourts in the nation. The trio put up 33.9 points per game last season, totaling 51 percent of the team’s scoring output.
Bennett is best at identifying role-players for his Pack Line defensive system, and will surround his core impeccably. Three incoming scholarship players will factor into the mix. They are Australian international Kody Stattmann, point guard Kohei Clark from California, and 7-foot, 220-pound Argentinean Francisco Caffaro.
The one-and done culture pervading college basketball is proving experience and upperclass leadership shines in tournament play. Villanova and North Carolina are perfect examples, winning the last three titles fielding veteran squads. UVA is loaded with maturity and wise talent. Watch out.
The Cavs tend to be undervalued every year behind Bennett. Their current national title futures odds attest to this. Did models forget UVA went 30-3 SU last year and ran away with the ACC regular-season and tournament titles?
They will ultimately come up underdogs some nights playing in the ACC. Since 2009, including the transition years under Bennett, the Cavs are 38-25 ATS overall catching points.
The UNDER is the value play, hitting in 43 of the contests (71.6 percent). A final score of 123.6 points comes up 4.8 points shy of a 128.4 average total. The number can’t go low enough to match Bennett’s glacial defense and turtle-like pace. Bet on it.