NC-Wilmington vs. Virginia Free Pick 03/16/17 – CBB Predictions
By Bryan Power
UNC Wilmington, regular season and tournament champions out of the Colonial, have become a trendy upset pick this week. It’s not difficult to see why. The Seahawks won all three CAA Tourney games by nine points or more and finished 29-5 straight up. But they got a tough draw in the Rd of 64 w/ Virginia and because of the hype surrounding the underdog, we’re now able to get the Hoos at a far more affordable price than we ought to. I’m going to make a small recommendation to lay the points here.
While all the focus has been on Virginia’s offensive woes, let’s not look past the fact that Tony Bennett’s team again finished #1 on the defensive end of the floor. They allow just 55.6 PPG and opponents are shooting worse than 40% from the field against them. So while UNC Wilmington comes in averaging over 85 PPG, they’ve clearly not faced a defense like the “Pack Line” this season. Remember that it was just a little over two weeks ago that UVA held North Carolina, a team that averaged 86 PPG, to HALF that number!
Because of it’s defense, Virginia still projects as a top 10 team in the country to me. This is a team that stayed ranked every week throughout the season and holds wins over North Carolina, Notre Dame and Notre Dame (2). They actually match up with UNC Greensboro relatively well. Were the underdog a bigger and more physical type team, then there would be some real issues here for the Hoos. But the Seahawks aren’t that big nor that physical. Look for UVA to defend the three-point line well on Thursday and move on w/ relative ease to the round of 32.