Ryan Knuppel  |  Thu 21st Mar   | NCAAB

NCAA Tournament 1st Round Betting Preview – South Region:

Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (16)
Virginia Cavaliers (1)

Virginia has only lost six games in the past two seasons, but we are guaranteed to hear a lot about last year’s NCAA tourney loss to UMBC as it was the first time a 16 seed ever beat a 1 seed. Tony Bennett will have this top team ready for their revenge tour of last year’s wild upset. Gardner-Webb is making their first NCAA tournament appearance, and they are hoping to make some more history on this trip.

Virginia is a -22 point favorite in this first round game on Friday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina.

Check out all of our March Madness previews & picks here.

gardner-webb bulldogs teamGardner-Webb Bulldogs Preview

The Runnin’ Bulldogs have only been a Division I program since 2002, and this will be their first appearance as they upset Radford in the Big South tournament title game. Gardner-Webb has gone 2-1 against ACC teams this season with wins over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest but lost to the best of the 3 in Virginia Tech. They finished this season among the best in free throw attempts while they also shoot pretty well from the field, but you can’t expect much defense from them.

Gardner-Webb’s offense is led by a pair of career 1,000 point scorers in David Efianayi (18.7 ppg) and D.J. Laster (13.7 ppg). Outside of their veteran leadership, Jose Perez is a 6-foot-5 freshman who has been in the top 20 for that age group, statistically speaking. Coach Tim Craft has been quoted for saying that they are used to being underdogs, and they have seen a 16 seed make some magic against this team before.

virginia cavaliers teamVirginia Cavaliers Preview

The Cavaliers may seem like a team you want to underestimate or write off after last season’s disappointment, but they have a more competent offense that is very versatile now. This is the fourth time in the last six seasons and the seventh time in school history that the Cavs are a number 1 seed in the Big Dance. Of their 3 losses this season, 2 have come at the hands of Duke and the other to an athletic Florida State team. They are undefeated outside of the ACC, and their elite defense is as suffocating as ever. It will be exciting to see this team with their improved offensive efficiency behind a trio of guards.

Virginia’s trio of guards starts with Kyle Guy (15.6 ppg), De’Andre Hunter (15.1 ppg), and Ty Jerome (13 ppg). This team can really shoot the 3 and are one of the most efficient shooting units in the country behind the arc. This squad has now had a week off and might be the healthiest team in postseason play to ever play under Tony Bennett. Virginia will come out strong in this one to make sure they aren’t overlooking any teams this year. The Cavaliers will be ready to go this game as they seek redemption from last year’s upset.

Gardner-Webb vs. Virginia Betting Pick

gardner webb bulldogs vs virginia cavaliers

This game will not be a déjà vu of last year’s nightmare for Virginia. Gardner-Webb had to make an upset just to get in the tournament for the first time, and they will face a Virginia team that will have more intensity than any 1 seed has ever had in a 1 vs. 16 matchup. There is no reason to suspect that the Cavs will not lay it on the Bulldogs come Friday evening.

The pick for this NCAA tournament game in Virginia as -22 point favorites.

Check out all of our March Madness previews & picks here.

Ryan Knuppel