The Virginia Cavaliers ended the 2016 regular season with a No. 4 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll and with a decent shot at grabbing a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. The team must first navigate a tough ACC Tournament bracket and a potential showdown with No. 7 North Carolina, if both teams advance into the weekend. Regardless of what happens in the ACC Tournament, most experts believe that Virginia has already done enough to earn a Top 2 seed in the Big Dance next week (barring a blowout loss in the early rounds).
The Cavaliers closed out the year winning two huge matchups over North Carolina, Clemson and Louisville and seem to be marching into the NCAA Tournament with a head of steam. Virginia hasn't made a deep run since an Elite Eight appearance way back in 1995 and has since produced a string of one-and-done tournament performances. However, the program did manage a Sweet 16 berth in 2014. Let take a closer look at Virginia's 2016 NCAA Tournament odds with predictions and analysis.
2016 Virginia Cavaliers National Title Betting Storylines
Virginia struggled for a moment during the month of January, losing three of four matchups to unranked teams and falling behind North Carolina in the ACC standings. The team eventually rebounded on the strength of their top-ranked defense, winning 11 of 13 matchups to close off the year and being ranked second in fewest points and rebounds allowed in the entire nation. Six-foot-eight forward Anthony Gill helped lead the charge on the defensive end with six rebounds per game and 17 steals and 16 blocks over the course of the season.
Senior guard Malcolm Brogdon averaged 18.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game and helped bring stability to an offense that struggled to score at times. Brogdon also became the first Virginia player to be named to the First-Team All-American squad since Ralph Sampson took home the honors over 30 years ago. If the Cavaliers are to make a deep tournament run and flirt with a national title, it will be on the back of the guard's playmaking ability and shooting accuracy from the field.
2016 Virginia Cavaliers Tournament Odds, ATS Record and Tournament History
Title Odds : +1400
ATS Record : 15-13 (8-5)
Tournament History : national championships: 0; Final Four appearances: 2; 2015: Round of 32 appearance.
Virginia struggled to cover spreads early in the year and ended with a 15-13 ATS record, but the team did come on strong to close out the regular season, covering seven of its last eight matchups. Totals-wise Virginia produced a 11-17 mark and managed to go "under" in nine of its last 10 games of the regular season. If you are planning to wager on the Cavaliers single-game spreads, sticking to single-digit lines seems to be the best way to make a profit. The team outscores its opponents by an average of 10 points per game, mainly on the strength of its defense, but does not necessarily have the offensive firepower to blow opponents out of the water.
2016 Virginia Cavaliers National Title Odds and Predictions
When looking at national title odds and deciding on which programs to bet, pedigree plays a huge role. The truth is that only certain programs win titles and make deep tournament runs. Over the last 11 years Duke (twice), Connecticut (twice), North Carolina (twice) Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas, and Florida (twice) have all won titles-not exactly a group of Cinderella stories-and four of those programs have won multiple times in that span.
Virginia is a solid team with an excellent defense, but wagering on them to win the entire tournament might be a big farfetched. The best way to make a profit on the team is by wagering on its totals lines and looking to take a well-timed under. Do not be surprised to see the Cavaliers end up with a No. 2 ranking but not making it out of the opening weekend of the tournament.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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