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Virginia vs. Texas Tech Championship Game Has Lowest Over/Under in 20 Years

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 06: Kyle Guy #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers celebrates with teammates after defeating the Auburn Tigers 63-62 during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Expect a defensive showdown.

According to Ben Fawkes of ESPN.com, Monday night's title game between Virginia and Texas Tech in the NCAA men's basketball tournament has the lowest over/under in the past two decades, with a total of 118 in most sportsbooks. 

In other words, Vegas is bracing for a 60-58 slugfest—or at least for bettors primed to take the under.

"There is an expectation that the public will be looking to play the under with these two teams involved, especially in the first half," Jeff Sherman, the vice president of risk at The SuperBook, told Fawkes. "We tried to go with a total low enough to have the first bets on the over, but that didn't happen."

The total of 118 is far lower than the next-lowest total in recent years, which was 128 in 2006 for the final between UCLA and Florida. In 2010, the total for Duke vs. Butler sat at 128.5.

But Virginia and Texas Tech are both incredibly stingy on defense. The Cavaliers allow just 55.5 points per game, best in the nation. The Red Raiders are right behind them, giving up just 58.8 points per game, third in the country. Virginia has given up over 65 points just once in the NCAA tournament, allowing Purdue to score 75, and that was in large part due to Carsen Edwards going off for 42 points.

They've also shown an ability to win in the clutch, beating Purdue in overtime and Auburn in the dying moments, controversial as that result may have been.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

0.2 seconds - Mamadi to tie it. 0.6 seconds - Kyle to win it. Tony Bennett reflects on @UVAMensHoops’ emotional roller coaster in #MarchMadness. https://t.co/GXpwfresfn

Texas Tech, meanwhile, has allowed just one opponent to exceed 60 points in the tourney (Gonzaga's 69 in the Elite Eight). And the Red Raiders held two prominent Big Ten teams, Michigan and Michigan State, to a combined 95 points in their run to the title game.

Both teams have shown the ability to put points on the board, however. Texas Tech has gone for 70 points three times in the NCAA tourney, while Virginia has done so twice. 

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Jarrett Culver with a DAGGER! https://t.co/scpCMQpLp6

Even if the game doesn't feature a bevy of scoring, it will have plenty of intriguing storylines, most notably the matchup between two potential lottery picks in this year's NBA draft, Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver and Virginia's De'Andre Hunter. Neither team has ever won a championship in men's basketball, either, so history will be made.

But the prevailing storyline will be the defense. And the betting already reflects that fact.

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