For the third straight year, the Virginia Cavaliers are a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Thanks in large part to their world-class defense, the Hoos compiled an impressive 26-7 overall record this season. The Cavaliers will look to live up to that favorite tag starting on Thursday when they take on the Hampton Pirates in the first round of the national tournament.
Will Virginia stamp its class over Hampton? Or will the Pirates add to the craziness of March Madness and be the first 16th-seeded team to advance into the second round? Read on below for a breakdown of this Midwest region matchup and while you’re at it, you can check out our first-round previews of Duke vs. UNC Wilmington and Baylor vs. Yale.
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March Madness No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Hampton Preview
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
When: Thursday, March 17, 3:10 PM ET
Line: Virginia Cavaliers (-24) vs. Hampton Pirates (+24); total: 131.5 – view all March Madness Lines
TV Broadcast: truTV
Betting on the Virginia Cavaliers
Despite losing to North Carolina in the ACC tournament final, the Virginia Cavaliers were able to lock down the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region in this year’s national championship. The selection committee took into account Virginia’s solid 14-4 record against the BPI top 50 this season.
What makes this Cavs version different compared to the past sides, though, is its offensive firepower. Virginia averaged over 70 points this season, the first time that has happened in Bennett’s seven-year reign. Providing the ammunition for the Cavaliers’ offense this campaign is Malcolm Brogdon. The ACC Player of the Year averaged 18.7 points per contest for Virginia this season. He averaged 21.7 points during the ACC tournament but was just 6-of-22 from the floor in the championship game against the Tar Heels.
Brogdon will look to turn things around against a Hampton defense that’s allowing 73.8 points per game this season, 233rd in the entire nation. Expected to contribute as well in this round of 64 contest is Anthony Gill. The Hoos’ second-leading scorer (13.3 PPG) reached double figures in four of his previous five NCAA Tournament games.
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Betting on the Hampton Pirates
The Hampton Pirates will head into the national tournament with momentum on their side after capturing the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament title in convincing fashion at Norfolk on Saturday. The Pirates uncorked a back-breaking 14-2 run in the final four minutes to win the MEAC championship for the sixth time.
Hampton used a balanced offensive attack to overwhelm South Carolina State in the championship game. Four players scored in double-figures for the Pirates in this title showdown. Leading the way for Hampton was senior Brian Darden who scored 22 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field.
The Pirates will need to double their efforts, though, if they are to stun Virginia this coming Thursday. We all have to remember that a 16th seed has never beaten a top-seed in the history of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. That being said, this wild and crazy season has already served up plenty of shocking results so it wouldn’t surprise us a bit if a 16-seed finally advances to the round of 32 this year.
For the Pirates to accomplish that feat and record a major shock against Virginia, they will need Reggie Johnson and Quinton Chievous to deliver heroic performances this coming Thursday. Johnson ranked second on the MEAC in scoring (18.3) and tied for third in assists (4.1). Chievous, on the other hand, averaged 17.0 points and a league-best 11.0 rebounds for Hampton this season. He averaged 18.5 points and 11.5 boards in two tournament games for the Pirates a year ago.
Virginia (-24) eases past Hampton, 76-51.