Midwest Region Picks: Back Hampton Tempting Odds & 'Under' vs. Virginia

Matthew Jordan

Monday, March 14, 2016 5:52 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 14, 2016 5:52 PM UTC

A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Could this wide-open season finally see it happen? Probably not in the Midwest Region Thursday.

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Can Pirates Make History?
This game is in Raleigh, N.C. at approximately 3:10 p.m. ET. No. 16 seeds like Hampton are 0-124 all-time against No. 1 seeds. Last year was the first time since 2011 that all four No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchups were decided by double digits. The last time one of these games were decided by just one possession (so 3 points or fewer) was in 1996 when Purdue beat Western Carolina 73-71. The most memorable No. 1 vs. No. 16 game still has to be the 1989 matchup between Princeton and Georgetown. The Hoyas escaped 50-49. It wouldn't totally shock me if a No. 16 seed did it this year because there's really no dominant No. 1 seed like a Kentucky was last regular season.

However, I'm not seeing Hampton (21-10) being that club. The Pirates won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season title with a 13-3 record. They were surprisingly pushed in the MEAC Tournament opener, escaping Morgan State 83-81. Then Hampton destroyed Savannah State and knocked off South Carolina State by 12 in the tournament final. It was Hampton's sixth MEAC Tournament crown overall and third under head coach Edward Joyner Jr. It's the first time the Pirates won back-to-back tournament titles since 2001-02.

Hampton is in the Big Dance for the fifth time. It had the misfortune of facing unbeaten Kentucky in last year's first round -- after beating Manhattan in the First Four -- and was beaten 79-56. Hampton shot just 29 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 35. You may remember that Joyner gave Jesus a phone call in a press conference ahead of facing the Wildcats.

The Pirates are led by senior guard Reginald Johnson, the MEAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player who averages 18.3 points and 4.1 assists per game, and senior swingman Quinton Chievous, who averages 17.0 points and 11.0 rebounds (only player in MEAC to average a double-double). Johnson and Chievous were also both First Team All-MEAC selections. Older fans might remember Chievous' father Derrick, who starred at  Missouri and played in the NBA.

The Pirates are 0-7 all-time against Virginia, with six of those seven meetings in Charlottesville. The two teams last met in 2013, a 69-40 UVA win. Hampton is 1-14 against schools currently in the ACC. The school played two major programs this season: losing 105-72 at then-No. 18 SMU, which is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, and 95-53 at Colorado, which is in the Big Dance.

Hampton is 3-2 against the spread this season on NCAA tournament odds and 5-0 'over/under.'


Cavaliers Deserve No. 1 Seed?
Many "experts" thought Virginia should have been dropped to a No. 2 seed behind Michigan State. After all the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament, while the Wahoos lost in the ACC final to North Carolina. But Sparty is the No. 2 in the Midwest behind Virginia -- MSU has beaten UVA in the past two NCAA Tournaments. Michigan State also doesn't really have any bad losses, while Virginia has four: George Washington, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State, all on the road. The Cavs are the first No. 1 seed ever with four losses to teams outside the Top 50 in RPI.

Virginia shot a season-low 36.5 percent in that 61-57 ACC Tournament loss to North Carolina. The 57 points also were a season low for Virginia (26-7), as were its three free-throw attempts. Guard Malcolm Brogdon, the ACC Player of the Year, attempted a career-high 22 shots and made only six.

UVA is making its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 1993-95. The Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2014 and third round in 2015. This will be a clash of styles as Virginia plays slow and is one of the nation's best defensive teams, allowing just 59.7 points (No. 2 nationally). Hampton likes to get out and run and averages 74.8 points. Virginia is 17-14 ATS on NCAA tournament picks and 12-19 O/U. Hampton is 9-0 ATS in its past nine as an underdog. It is 8-1 ATS in its past nine neutral-site games. 

The winner of this game faces the winner of No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 9 Butler on Saturday -- I projected Butler in my preview of that game here at SBR.

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NCAAB Free Picks: Hampton +23.5 & Under 133.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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