The Virginia Cavaliers meet the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs at the Colonial Life Arena on Friday afternoon in NCAA 2019 1st round action.
The Cavaliers are the No. 1 seed in the South region of this year’s NCAA tournament and are strong favourites to see off the challenge of the South’s No. 16 seed GWU.
It’s the fourth time in six years that the Cavaliers have been a No. 1 seed and it’s about time they broke through and reached the Final Four – it would actually be their first appearance in the Final Four in 35 years!
Virginia are top seeds in the South for the second straight year and will be desperate to avoid another colossal embarrassment after last year’s humiliating 74-54 defeat at the hands of UMBC, which made them the first top seed to lose to a No. 16 since the bracket went to 64 teams in 1985.
This year they will have no excuses for failing to achieve that goal, as the draw is very favourable for the Cavaliers, presuming they get past GWU, with either the Ole Miss Rebels or Oklahoma Sooners, who rank 44th and 38th in the KenPom rankings respectively, up next.
In the Sweet 16 the UVA could come up against the Wisconsin Badgers and theoretically their first major test could come in the Elite Eight, when they could meet the Tennessee Volunteers.
GWU are already in unchartered territory, with DJ Laster having scored a career-best 32 points as Gardner-Webb beat Radford 76-65 the Sunday before last to win the Big South Tournament championship and earn their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
In terms of NCAA predictions for this game, the Money Line odds on the Cavs are desperately short as one would expect at -5000 with bet365, while GWU are available at +2200 with 888sport. A Point Spread of -22.5 on the Cavaliers at -110 with Betfair looks a better value tip.
Pick: Point Spread – Virginia Cavaliers @ -22.5pts