The first day of the NCAA Tournament first round is in the books, as it was a wild day that saw one monster upset between a No. 15 and No. 2 seed. The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles upset the Ohio State Buckeyes with a 75-72 win to chase the Buckeyes out of the tournament in the first round. In the next biggest upset on Friday, the North Texas Green Machine sent the Purdue Boilermakers home in their own state with a 78-69 win in overtime. It seemed likely once that game went to overtime that Purdue was going to take control, but the total opposite happened. Oral Roberts steamrolled in overtime to out score the Boilermakers by a score of 17-8.
Rutgers, Syracuse, and Oregon State winning as lower seeds count as upsets, but not really when it comes to the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers was favored as the No. 10 seed over No. 7 Clemson in that contest. That’s not an upset, nor is Syracuse winning as small underdogs, or Oregon State, who were red-hot to close out the season winning straight up over Tennessee. Oregon State could make a run based on their recent form, so the Beavers certainly can’t be ignored in the next round. Like I’ve said, it’s all about getting hot at the right time and the Beavers are hot at the moment.
There are some big teams in action on Saturday that are worth nothing. The Michigan Wolverines will look to bounce back against Texas Southern. That would certainly overtake Oral Roberts beating Ohio State if Texas Southern was able to pull off the upset as a No. 16 seed. I find a loss there for Michigan highly unlikely, though. I’m not going out on a limb or anything when making that prediction. 25.5 points just looks like a lot to lay, though, so I am going to take a pass. I will start off my betting day in the evening in the Ohio Bobcats and Virginia Cavaliers matchup.
Ohio is feeling confident after a hot run through the MAC Tournament as the No. 5 seed. The Bobcats beat the No. 1 seed, Toledo Rockets, by a score of 87-80, and then won the MAC Championship against No. 2 Buffalo, 84-69. This is an Ohio team that went to the wire against Illinois early in the season in a 77-75 loss on November 27, so the talent is present for the Bobcats to be a NCAA Tournament spoiler.
Virginia enters Saturday after having to drop out of the ACC Tournament because of positive Covid-19 tests. They are lucky that they’re even playing tonight after that potential season-ender. Any more positive tests this week would have derailed them, but fortunately, the Cavaliers are good to go. Ohio goes into the first round with a record of 16-7, while the Cavs are at 18-6. Head below for our free Ohio vs. Virginia pick on March 20, 2021.
Ohio Bobcats (No. 13) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (No. 4) NCAA Tournament Betting Odds:
Ohio vs. Virginia Prediction:
Virginia are still currently the defending NCAA Tournament Champions. We didn’t have a tournament last year, so Virginia is still holding onto their 2019 crown. Their title defense begins today against the Bobcats. If they don’t want to fall victim to an upset, then Virginia has to be prepared for Jason Preston.
Virginia couldn’t have done that much prep work for Ohio given the Covid-19 situation, so that could be a problem. Preston might be the most prolific playmaker on the floor in this game. He scored an average of 16.6 points and 7.2 assists per game for the Bobcats. Preston also chipped in with 6.8 rebounds per game. The junior is shooting a wildly impressive 53% from the field.
If the Cavaliers allow Preston to get too comfortable, then the door is going to be wide open for an Ohio straight up win. He led the Bobcats to an average of 80.2 points per game for 25th in the country. As a team, Ohio is shooting 48.4% from the field for 24th in the NCAA. They face a difficult Virginia defense that has conceded 60.1 points per game for fifth in the country.
Teams are shooting 41.6% from the field against the Cavaliers, so that could be a little better. The key to holding teams to 60 points a game is their style of play. Virginia likes to grind games out and go slow. As a consequence, their offense doesn’t score a whole lot of points. Certainly it’s not the same offense from the 2019 campaign.
Virginia is scoring 68.5 points per game for 255th in the NCAA, but they’re shooting 48.1% for 31st, so that’s a testament to how conservative they run their offense. Ohio conceded 73.7 points per game for 262nd in the NCAA. Their defense is beatable, though Virginia doesn’t have a team that runs up the score.
The Bobcats have been fine on a neutral court, as they’ve gone 5-0 ATS in their last five in that setting. Ohio also doesn’t mind playing the underdog role. In their last four games catching points, the Bobcats went 4-0 ATS. Virginia has been stuck in quarantine for much of the past week, while Preston and the Bobcats have been focusing on an upset. The points on Ohio looks like the only play here.