South Region: Gardner-Webb vs Virginia Prediction
Gardner-Webb vs Virginia Preview
Virginia will never be able to live down last year’s NCAA Tournament result. The first No.1 seed ever to lose to a No.16 seed is something that will live in infamy, but the Cavaliers are looking for redemption this season.
Their defense is just as stout as year’s past, but there is something different about this team:
The Cavaliers’ offense is the most efficient it has been in years, led by Kyle Guy’s 15.6 points per game. Guy and the Virginia offense have averaged 71.8 points per contest this season and had made 54.2 percent of three-pointers over their previous five games before the loss to the Seminoles in the ACC Tournament.
Gardner-Webb (23-11) upset Radford in last week’s Big South tournament title game to earn the first NCAA Tournament berth in school history after fully joining the ranks of Division I teams back in 2002. Despite a lack of tournament experience, the Bulldogs make up for it with a veteran-laden crew.
“Scary, scary,” Gardner-Webb head coach Tim Craft said about playing one of the nation’s best teams. “But I will say, we’re kind of used to being the underdog here, and we were picked sixth in our league and then won our league.”
The Bulldogs have won five games in a row and eight of their last nine, helping erase memories of an 0-3 start. One of those losses was to Virginia’s rival, Virginia Tech, but Gardner-Webb beat the other two ACC teams it faced this season, knocking off Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
“Our guys will go in and play with confidence, and I think that’s the key,” Craft added. “We’ve got to be loose and confident to even have a chance.”
Gardner-Webb’s offense is led by a pair of career 1,000-point scorers in David Efianayi (18.7 points per game) and D.J. Laster (13.7) and freshman guard Jose Perez (15.1).
The winner will advance to the play Sunday against the either No. 8 Ole Miss or No. 9 Oklahoma.
LINE: -22.5 Virginia
Dan’s Bet: Over 130.5
Bracket Pick: Virginia
Score Prediction: Virginia 79 Gardner-Webb 58