Virginia vs. Oregon Betting Guide: Can Cavaliers Best Ducks’ Defense in 2019 NCAA Tournament?

Virginia vs. Oregon Betting Guide: Can Cavaliers Best Ducks’ Defense in 2019 NCAA Tournament? article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Virginia guard De’Andre Hunter, Oregon guard Payton Pritchard

#1 Virginia vs. #12 Oregon: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: UVA -8.5
  • Over/Under: 119
  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Date: Thursday, March 28
  • Time: 9:57 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

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

If you just look at the remaining seeds, you could argue we have the 15 best teams in the country left and an ugly duckling in Oregon — the sole remaining team seeded lower than 5. Except there’s nothing ugly about how the 12-seed Ducks are playing right now.

Winners of 10 straight over the past 30 days, Oregon is as hot as any team in the country.

That said, Virginia represents a different type of challenge, a major step-up in competition. Can the Ducks keep their run going against a No. 1 seed — and if not, can they at least keep it close enough to cover? Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

How Virginia’s Offense Matches Up With Oregon’s Defense

The Ducks have been on a quite a run and they’ve been doing it with defense first. Headed into the tournament, they had the most efficient defense in the month of March.

Dana Altman’s club runs a morphing matchup zone that forces teams to work deep into the shot clock and ideally take a low-percentage jumper. It’s a very complex defense that requires everyone on the floor to be on the same page.

Well, Virginia will have no problems working hard (and long) for a look late in the shot clock. The Cavaliers run a motion offense with relentless screening to tirelessly work for the best possible shot. Their offense ranks 351st in Average Possession Length, per KenPom.

The Ducks also force opponents to shoot a ton of 3s, as evidenced by their extremely high 45.1% opponent 3-point rate. In fact, only Virginia Tech forces opponents to shoot more from beyond the arc among all tournament teams. Well, that’s not ideal against a flame-throwing UVA squad that shot better than 40% from deep on the season.

Yes, Oregon’s defense has allowed a 3-point rate of only 29.1%, the sixth-best in the nation. But I think the Ducks have been getting lucky in that department: Elite 3-point defense has not historically been a staple of an Altman defense.

Virginia’s experienced and patient offense is a well-oiled machine that neither man nor zone has been able to slow down this season. The Cavaliers should find the success against Oregon’s D that so many teams have failed to do in March.

Other Factors to Consider

Oregon’s defense has a ton of length and is very active; it gets a ton of blocks and steals (top 20 in both categories) that will lead to its best offense, which comes in transition. However, Virginia just doesn’t turn the ball over, ranking 14th in the country with a minuscule 14.9% turnover rate.

Altman will also throw in a press on defense, which he’s done in more than 25% of Oregon’s possessions this season. However, Virginia has handled the press well this season, as you might expect for a team that doesn’t turn it over.

But the one exception is freshman guard Kihei Clark.

Clark has been turnover prone, and if Oregon can get him to cough up the rock, the Ducks offense — which can struggle in the half court — excels in transition. And transition is the one area where Virginia’s defense has struggled.

Could fatigue be an issue for Oregon?

The Ducks have played a lot of basketball over the past few weeks. And now, after playing the late game this past Sunday night, they travel to Kentucky to play on the first day of the Sweet 16.

You can certainly expect Virginia to have fresher legs.

The ‘Hoos should also have a much stronger crowd presence, which can help swing a call or two in a team’s favor. Charlottesville is fewer than 500 miles from Louisville while Eugene is more than 2,300 miles away.

Because of how many defensive looks Altman will throw at opponents, his teams are usually tough outs in a tournament setting — even more so when there’s just one day in between games (just ask UC Irvine). But Virginia will benefit from a few days of preparation.

From a pace perspective, this game should play out like molasses. Both teams are pure snails. Virginia ranks DEAD LAST in the country in Adjusted Tempo, while Oregon ranks 328th.

This will look like a different sport than Carolina-Auburn.

The Pick

The Oregon defense is very good, but this Virginia offense is one of only eight in Division I to average more than 1.00 Points Per Possession in the half court, per Synergy. (Gonzaga is the only other team remaining that also does.)

Tony Bennett’s bunch has the scheme and shooters to give the Ducks defense fits. But most importantly, the Cavaliers have the patience. As Rousseau said: “Patience is a bitter fruit, but its fruit is sweet.”

I expect plenty of open 3s and layups deep into the shot clock, leading to a Sweet 16 victory.

We also know how elite the Virginia defense is in the half court. I think the Cavaliers will control the pace and limit Oregon’s best offense in transition. UVA can completely suffocate the Ducks in the half court.

It’s never fun taking an under in a tourney game since fouls can bite you late even more than normal. And I really don’t like laying 8.5 points in a game that I expect to be that low scoring. However, there is just too much value to pass up in a game I make -10.5 and 116.

THE PICK: Virginia -8.5, Under 119.5

Our Projected Odds: Virginia vs. Oregon

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 -9
  • Total: 121.5
  • Proj Score: Virginia 65.5 | Oregon 56.5
  • Win Probability: Virginia 82.8% | Oregon 17.2%

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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