Last Updated: 2019-03-27
The Road to the Final Four resumes on Thursday with the No. 12 Oregon Ducks and No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers doing battle at KFC Yum Center in Louisville for the right to advance to Saturday’s South Region finals. The Cavaliers opened as 7.5-point favorites and the line has moved to Virginia -8.5, with the Ducks getting 60% of the wagers in the game through Wednesday morning, while the total has held pretty steady at 119, even with more than two-thirds of the wagers coming in on the over.
The Ducks reached this point with an upset over Wisconsin to open the tournament, breaking open a tie game at the half with a 47-29 second-half scoring advantage and then came back to knock off Irvine after squandering a 12-point halftime lead, only to end the game on a 38-17 run.
The Cavaliers started slow in their tournament opener against Gardner-Webb, trailing by 10 points 10 minutes into the game and by six at the half, only to open the second half on a 25-5 run. The Cavaliers were a little more consistent against Oklahoma in their second-round game, taking a 31-22 halftime lead and never really being threatened in the second half.
Oregon: The Ducks are a little better than average shooting the ball, hitting 45.3% of their shots against foes who allowed an average of 43.5% on the season, and they’re also a little better from long-range, hitting 35.1% from 3-point range. Oregon is in no hurry to shoot the ball, ranking No. 328 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted pace ratings.
Defense is where the Ducks live and die, as they hold teams to 39.9% from the field and don’t really see a drop-off on the road, where they allow 40%. The Ducks hold teams to 6.3% lower than their season average in 3-point shooting and give up 11.4 fewer points than their season average.
Virginia: The Cavaliers also are going to slow it down and they’re even slower-paced than Oregon, ranking No. 353 in adjusted pace ratings, but are a solid shooting team, hitting 47.9% of their shots against teams who allowed 42.1% for the season. Virginia connected on 40% of its 3-point shots and how they fare from outside could very well determine the outcome of this one.
Virginia’s defense is one of the top three in the country, holding foes to 17.8 fewer points than they average and 38.1% from the field. The Cavs weren’t quite as good away from home, allowing 39.9% and only 27.8% on 3-pointers.
Game: Unless one team decides to try and surprise the other, this game should play out exactly as expected and be a slow, deliberate pace. The teams mirror each other in style and the Cavs get the nod offensively, as they have better shooters, and are a little better defensively.
The Ducks may look to pressure Virginia’s ball-handlers a little bit more than normal, as Oregon is solid at forcing turnovers and does get more minutes out of its bench, but at this stage of the season, can’t see either team making major adjustments to what they did to get them here.
Pick: Virginia -8.5
The Cavaliers are the better team and played a tougher schedule than the Ducks and believe they’ll be able to pull away down the stretch, as Oregon really isn’t designed to come from behind. The Ducks haven’t seen a defense as good as Virginia’s all season, while there are five teams in the SEC Pomeroy has rated better defensively than Oregon.
It’s not easy laying so many points in a game where points figure to be tough to come by, but Virginia has the talent to win by double-digits in a lower-scoring game, something they have done frequently during the season.
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