Virginia vs. Auburn Betting Guide: Which Team Plays Its Preferred Style in 2019 Final Four?

Virginia vs. Auburn Betting Guide: Which Team Plays Its Preferred Style in 2019 Final Four? article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kyle Guy, Bryce Brown

#1 Virginia vs. #5 Auburn: Final Four 2019 Betting Odds, Guide

  • Spread: Virginia -6
  • Over/Under: 131
  • Date: April 6
  • Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • TV: CBS

>> All odds as of Saturday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

Auburn vs. Virginia might be the most fascinating clash of styles in the entire NCAA Tournament.

Tony Bennett’s Virginia team plays at the slowest pace in the country and wants everything in the half-court. Bruce Pearl’s Auburn pressures the ball, gets out in transition and loves to shoot 3s.

Which will win out in the Final Four? Our experts dive in.

Odds Moves for Virginia vs. Auburn

Virginia opened -5 offshore and moved to -5.5 shortly after. Despite most of the money coming in on Auburn, the line has held steady and even moved toward -6 at some books (see live odds here).

The total opened 133 and was immediately bet down to 130 before ticking up a point throughout the week. Steve Petrella

Trends to Know for Auburn-Virginia

Auburn is making the program’s first Final Four appearance. Since 1985, teams in their first Final Four have gone 4-10 straight up (SU) and only one team, UConn in 1999, has won the championship in its first appearance.John Ewing

In the Final Four and championship game, the team with the better seed — Virginia and Michigan State this year — have gone 24-5 SU and 19-9-1 against the spread (ATS) since 2005. Ewing

More than 70% of spread tickets are on Auburn as of writing (see live data here). Since 2005, underdogs receiving a majority of spread tickets in the NCAA Tournament have gone 108-135-5 (44.4%) ATS. Ewing

Virginia is the third team since 1985 to lose in the Round of 64 and return the season after as a No. 1 seed. The previous two teams in Virginia’s spot won it all: Indiana in 1987 and 2015 Duke in 2015. Evan Abrams

When Virginia Has the Ball

Virginia’s offense is designed for a high-percentage shot on every possession. It rarely forces shots and boasts the second-most efficient offense in the country.

The Cavaliers rank third best overall from 3-point range while shooting almost 75% from the foul line. They also average only 9.1 turnovers per game, the second-fewest in the country. This will be vitally important against Auburn, which has the highest defensive turnover percentage in the country.

Junior Ty Jerome (13.3 ppg) has been Virginia’s most consistent scorer, reaching double-digits in all four tournament games. His backcourt mate Kyle Guy (15.2 ppg) broke out of a three-game slump against Purdue with 25 points on 5 of 12 shooting from beyond the arc.

However, the biggest advantage will come with guard De’Andre Hunter (14.9 ppg). The 6-foot-7 sophomore will benefit from the absence of Auburn’s Chuma Okeke. He can attack the basket off the dribble and shoots 42.4% from 3-point range.

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Guy (5), De’Andre Hunter (12), Ty Jerome (11)

I expect Bennett to also use reserves Braxton Key (5.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Jay Huff (4.5 ppg, 46.7% 3P) much more in this game. Four of the last six Final Four games have hit the over, so Virginia might need more scoring to reach the title game.Mike Randle

When Auburn Has the Ball

Just because Virginia ranks top five in defensive efficiency doesn’t mean Auburn’s offense will be left for dead.

Virginia’s pack-line defense is meant to limit the opposition’s ability to attack the basket off the dribble, but it’s still allowed the 104th-highest 3-point scoring rate (34.0%). It allowed Purdue guard Carsen Edwards to shoot 10-of-19 (52.6%) from behind the arc in their Elite Eight matchup, allowing the Boilermakers to creep back into the game before losing in overtime.

The Tigers’ sixth-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (120.6 points per 100 possessions) hinges on its perimeter offense, producing the seventh-ranked 3-point scoring rate. It’s a product of their 15th-rated 3-point clip (38.3%), led by their starting backcourt of Jared Harper and Bryce Brown in transition.

Even if UVA keeps the rebounding margin tight while limiting Auburn from pushing the pace as often as the Tigers want, Pearl’s half-court sets should still be effective enough because of Harper and Brown’s quickness off the bounce.

Despite the loss of 6-foot-8 Chuma Okeke (torn ACL), Auburn bigs Austin Wiley, Horace Spencer, Anfernee McLemore and Daniel Purifoy will provide enough of a gang rebounding effort to generate second-chance opportunities to create mismatches from behind the arc.Eli Hershkovich

Stuckey: Can Auburn Get Out in Transition?

How often can Auburn get out in transition? That’s the key to the game in my eyes.

While Virginia’s defense does almost everything at an elite level in the half court, it is actually really vulnerable in transition. The Cavaliers rank 317th in the nation in transition Points Per Possession allowed, per Synergy Sports.

That could spell trouble against an Auburn team that loves to push it (one of 36 teams that gets out in transition at least 20% of the time) and does so successfully, ranking in the top 40 in that same PPP category.

Virginia only allows transition opportunities in a little more than 10% of its possessions but when it does, it struggles to defend. The Hoos are so elite the other 90% of the time that it would behoove the Tigers to speed this game up.

I think the game will come down to this number — if Auburn can get it in the neighborhood of 20%, it will have a really good shot. If it’s closer to 10, UVA likely wins a grinder.Stuckey

Auburn Can Expose Kihei Clark

While Auburn will miss Okeke, it still has two guards capable of beating Virginia’s pack-line defense with Harper and Brown. They both can not only do it in transition, but off the dribble in the half court. They can exploit Clark on both ends.

Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kihei Clark

The 5-foot-9, 155 pound Clark will really be the only freshman in this game, and while he plays extremely hard and disciplined defense (he rarely ever fouls), it’s hard not to be a liability at his size: Players can easily shoot and pass over him without much disruption.

Look no further than UVA’s on-off splits per HoopLens, which show that UVA is almost eight points better per 100 possessions when Clark isn’t on the floor.

For one, he can’t really shoot and is a gaping hole on the offensive end. He’s shooting worse than 35% from the floor on the season. Yes, the floor — not just from 3. While he looks the part on defense, the metrics don’t lie.

And for whatever reason, Bennett has increased Clark’s minutes this tournament as he has really constricted his rotation. Clark is averaging more than 32 minutes per game, which I think has contributed to the increased success of UVA’s opponent 3-point percentage.

In four games this tournament, opponents have shot 40-of-102 from beyond the arc against the Cavs. That’s higher than 39% — almost 10% higher than their season average.

Clark also owns UVA’s highest turnover rate at 19.7% (per KenPom), and that rate actually sits higher than 20% in conference play. That could play right into the hands of an Auburn defense that leads the nation in turnover percentage, forcing a turnover on an absolutely silly 24.9% of opponent’s possessions. Stuckey

Some Magic in Auburn

Look, UVA has been running bad on the offensive end from 3 and you could argue partially bad on defense as well.

A lot of that has to do with Guy’s shooting woes. If he can get it going, UVA is a different team offensively as his late shot clock 3s are daggers in the grinders UVA plays.

But there’s just something about this Auburn team.

The Tigers are playing as well as anybody in the country. They’ve won 12 straight overall, including seven against the KenPom top 25. Their road to the Final Four has been much tougher than Virginia’s, which really shouldn’t even be here if not for a miracle tip, pass and shot in the Purdue game.

Pearl has this team believing and the Tigers have the senior guards to get out in transition and break down UVA off the dribble when necessary in the half court.

Don’t count this Auburn team out. I’m invested enough with the Auburn futures and will add at +6. But if I didn’t have a future, I’d play small at +5.5. Stuckey

Number Spot On?

For me, this number is dead-on, but this wild ride for Auburn has been anything but predictable.

A lot of it has been predicated on the Tigers’ 3-point shooting, the volatility of which can help launch productive teams much further in the tournament than we thought possible.

I will give Bennett the coaching edge in almost every game he plays, and I think the idea that he has the longer prep time to get his team ready is valuable.

Someone like say, UNC’s Roy Williams, used that time less effectively against Auburn and got stung as a result. Virginia defends the 3 as well as any team in the country, and it turns the ball over as little as anyone.

The Hoos should be the Auburn kryptonite.

They also shoot free throws very well if it did come down to an end-game situation. But the market respects Virginia’s advantage here, and this number isn’t nearly far off enough for me to consider the Cavaliers. This is a pass for me, but I would consider Virginia in an open teaser leg where the Cavs would basically just have to win. Ken Barkley

Sean Koerner’s Virginia-Auburn Projections

These ratings were built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Virginia -5.5
  • Over/Under: 138
  • Score: Virginia 72 | Auburn 66.5
  • Win Probability: Virginia 70% | Auburn 30%

Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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