Fans of March Madness betting will be treated to an unlikely matchup featuring two programs that have never made it this far in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Virginia and Texas Tech are set to play in the championship game on Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, a game that is sure to test most people’s NCAA title game betting strategy.
Virginia advanced to the final by beating Auburn 63-62 in the semifinals Saturday night, a game where Cavaliers guard Kyle Guy sunk three free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining to give Virginia a somewhat controversial win – so much so that PointsBet returned Auburn moneyline bets.
⚠️Karma Kommittee Ruling⚠️— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) April 7, 2019
The emergency Saturday night gathering has reached a verdict:
ALL MONEYLINE BETS ON AUBURN WILL BE REFUNDED IN FULL!
The missed double-dribble on Virginia's Ty Jerome was enough, so we had to do right by Tigers backers! pic.twitter.com/5YHWJh5Q5t
Texas Tech earned its spots in the championship upsetting Michigan State, 61-51. As the Red Raiders have done throughout the tournament, their stifling defense was the catalyst by holding the Spartans to their lowest point total of the season.
Virginia Favored, Over-Under Drops
Oddsmakers have the Cavaliers listed as 1.5-point favorites over the Red Raiders, though some have already closed the line to a point. The over-under for total points was initially set at 119 points, but was lowered to 117.5 points after money steadily came in on the under as both Virginia and Texas Tech are defense-oriented teams.
The Cavaliers have only allowed 58.6 points per game in the tournament (five games), while Texas Tech have held all but one of its five opponents to under 58 points. In all likelihood, Monday’s championship will be low-scoring where points will be at a premium.
According to CBS, Saturday’s semifinals was the first in the shot clock era (1986-present) where no team scored more than 65 points.
Virginia Rides Bumpy Road
Virginia is 34-3 on the season and 25-12 against the spread and entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win the championship with the Cavaliers having the second-best odds at +550 (tied with Gonzaga), trailing only Duke +240.
Virginia was the lone No. 1 to advance to the Final Four, with both Duke and Gonzaga eliminated in the Elite Eight and North Carolina knocked out in the Sweet 16.
Virginia’s path to the championship final was bumpy. In the first round, the Cavaliers trailed No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb by double-digits -- reminiscent of Virginia’s historic opening-round loss last year -- before rallying in the second half.
Virginia then turned in a sluggish performance against Oregon in the Sweet 16, winning 53-49. And in the Elite Eight, Virginia had to overcome a 10-point deficit to Purdue before winning in overtime.
This is the Cavaliers third Final Four, but their first time playing for their first title. Virginia previously advanced to the Final Four in 1981 and 1984.
Smoother Run for Surprise Texas Tech
Texas Tech is 31-6 on the season and 20-16-1 against the spread, and a No. 3 seed in the West Region. The Red Raiders were +2500 to win the national championship prior to the start of the tournament.
The Red Raiders road to Minneapolis was less turbulent than the Cavaliers. Texas Tech won its first three tournament games comfortably -- a 15-point margin over Northern Kentucky, a 20-point margin over Buffalo, and a 19-point margin over Michigan in the Sweet 16. The Red Raiders then upset Gonzaga 75-69 in the Elite Eight to make their first Final Four in school history.