Virginia vs. Gardner Webb Betting Guide: Could Cavaliers Slip Up in NCAA Tournament Again?

Virginia vs. Gardner Webb Betting Guide: Could Cavaliers Slip Up in NCAA Tournament Again? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs guard David Efianayi (11), Virginia Cavaliers guard De’Andre Hunter (12).

#1 Virginia vs. #16 Gardner Webb NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: UVA -21.5
  • Over/Under: 129.5
  • Time: Friday, 3:10 p.m. ET
  • TV: TruTV
  • Location: Columbia, S.C.

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


Virginia suffered the greatest upset in the history of the NCAA Tournament last year as a No. 1 seed. Its opening-round matchup against UMBC was a grind that ended in a tie after the first half before the Terriers exploded for more than 50 points in the second half.

Until last season, a No. 16 seed had never beaten a No. 1 seed, much less the top overall seed in the tournament.

UMBC came into last years tournament with a formula — shoot a lot of 3s, and make them. It ranked top 50 in both categories. Combined with a minutes continuity of 24th, the Terriers shot 50% from beyond the arc against the Virginia defense.

This year, Gardner Webb will look to duplicate UMBC’s success.

Perimeter Favors Virginia on Both Ends

Virginia runs the slowest tempo in the country, but plays some of the most efficient basketball of any team. The Cavaliers don’t rank outside of the top 50 in many advanced stats, but rebounds especially should be in favor of the top seed. Gardner Webb ranks 330th in offensive rebound percentage, so Virginia will own the glass.

There may not be a better team in the nation with 3-pointers than the Cavaliers, either. Virginia ranks fourth in 3-point percentage, while its defense is the top-ranked perimeter unit in the country.

Gardner Webb is just inside the top 40 in 3-point percentage, but ranks outside the top 200 in distribution of points from deep. Despite their strong shooting, the Runnin’ Bulldogs don’t shoot a ton of them.

Mismatches when Gardner Webb Has the Ball

As mentioned previously, Gardner Webb can shoot the 3, but that’s not a weapon it can readily rely on. While that was UMBC’s secret sauce, it should not be an issue for Virginia in this game. One area Gardner Webb may find some success is turnovers.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs rank 62nd in offensive turnovers while Virginia is 227th in defensive turnover percentage due to its pack-line defense that contains teams more often than it turns them over. Most Gardner Webb possessions should end in a shot.

With an effective field goal percentage rank of 27th in the nation, the underdog should have a fine day shooting.

The Pick

Gardner Webb plays a lot of zone on defense, a scheme that Virginia has manhandled against a few other ACC teams this season.

If the bigs are not successful in the paint for the Cavaliers, look for Kyle Guy and a host of others to show off that top-five ranking from deep. The point spread has been stable up until this writing, with more of the money being placed on Virginia.

Gardner Webb may be able to hit a couple of successful shots early, but the advanced stats say none of this can be sustained. Virginia has not forgotten UMBC, and I would not be surprised if this is a statement game.

Collin’s Pick: Virginia -21.5

Our Projected Odds: Virginia vs. Gardner-Webb

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator 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 -24.5
  • Over/Under: 132.5
  • Score: Virginia 78.5 | Gardner-Webb 54
  • Win Probability: Virginia 99.3% | Gardner-Webb 0.7%

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

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