March Madness is officially here! The 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket has been announced, and the teams are lining up for the Big Dance. Let’s take a look at the early odds, preview, and predictions for the 2023 NCAA Tournament Round 1 game: Virginia vs. Furman.
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2023 March Madness Odds, Preview & Predictions: Virginia vs. Furman
Virginia vs. Furman Odds, Spread & Match Up Overview
- Virginia Spread: -5.5
- Furman Spread: +5.5
- Virginia Moneyline: -275
- Furman Moneyline: +215
- Game Over/Under: 132.5
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Virginia 2023 NCAA Tournament Betting Preview
For the “high ceiling, low flow” award, we have Virginia. The Cavaliers’ slow, methodical play means they can lull their opponents to sleep and win it all (see 2019), or any team can keep up with them and knock them off (see 2018). Despite Virginia’s reputation for having a suffocating defense, this is actually one of the worst defensive teams Tony Bennett has coached, ranking outside the top 30 in defensive efficiency.
Virginia’s losses to Boston College and Virginia are microcosms of this team’s floor but wins over Baylor and Duke show Virginia’s potential ceiling. The Cavaliers take care of the ball well and have a lot of experience, with four senior starters. Their offense is OK, but nothing spectacular. Shooters Armaan Franklin and Reece Beekman are capable of getting hot. Ben Vander Plas is effective down low, with solid rebounding numbers to go with his 6-8 frame.
Defensively, this team is susceptible to giving up the long ball, with opponents shooting near average from deep. An athletic guard could potentially slice and dice Virginia. With its ridiculously slow pace, Virginia can allow anyone to hang around in the game. Generally speaking, this is a team that will be held back by its lack of offensive star power. The Cavaliers rank outside the top 30 in KenPom beginning tournament play, suggesting they might have been slightly overseeded.
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Furman 2023 NCAA Tournament Betting Preview
A heartbreaking buzzer-beater loss kept Furman out of last year’s NCAA Tournament, but the Paladins left no doubt this time around with an 88-79 win over Chattanooga in the Southern Conference championship game to secure their automatic bid.
Furman runs its top-40 offense through Jalen Slawson and Mike Bothwell. Slawson has an effective deep shot and the size to guard anyone on the court with his 6-7 frame. Bothwell is effective at getting to the rim and takes care of the ball at a high clip. The Paladins depend heavily on shooting from deep, with 35 percent of their points coming from beyond the arc, the 62nd-highest in the nation.
A physical team would give Furman problems, and the Paladins’ 184th-ranked defense will not match up well with high-powered offenses. But Furman knows how to win, and there is a lot of experience on this team. Bob Richey coaches a team that could spring a first-round upset simply by virtue of a strong offense capable of getting hot.
Virginia vs. Furman 2023 NCAA Tournament Predictions
Virginia finds itself in a similar situation as their 2021 season, entering the tournament as a four seed. Thinking back, the Cavaliers fell to 13-seeded Ohio in the first round that year. Big man Ben Vander Plas is out for the season, which is a serious hit to Virginia’s rebounding and frontcourt depth. It will be interesting to see how they reload.
Vander Plas is a big hit to Virginia especially considering Furman ranking first overall at 2pt shooting with their 59 percent clip from inside the arc. They take a ton of those shots near proximity, ranking 358th in points coming from the mid-range look. While Virginia has an effective interior defense, the loss of Vander Plas puts into question how effective that will be. Furman is also capable of shooting from the perimeter.
Both teams are effective at ball control, and Furman’s interior defense is nothing spectacular, but they do defend the perimeter at a solid clip. To me, I expect Virginia to have some trouble getting their feet under them to start this game. Furman’s fast-paced offense might put the Cavaliers on skates. Tony Bennett is an elite coach so he can make a comeback and second-half adjustments, but I like Furman in the first half.
Virginia vs. Furman 2023 NCAA Tournament Picks
Pick: Under 1H
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College Basketball, Game Preview, March Madness, South Region