The Virginia Cavaliers have exorcised some demons in making their first Final Four appearance since 1984 one year after becoming the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 in the first round. But the Cavaliers are the team to beat the rest of the way as consensus favorites to cut down the nets in Minneapolis on April 8, so anything less than a national championship would be considered a disappointment.
Virginia is listed as a 5.5-point favorite on the March Madness lines against the Auburn Tigers in the first national semifinal game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com as the lone top seed to make it this far in the Big Dance.
The Cavaliers won the South Region by defeating three opponents with seeds of nine or higher while the fifth-seeded Tigers advanced from the Midwest after knocking off three of the top four in their part of the bracket. Three of Virginia's first four games went UNDER the total, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database, the exception being an 80-75 overtime victory against the third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the South Regional Final last Saturday. Virginia barely covered that game as a 4.5-point favorite.
Meanwhile, Auburn has used a fast-paced offense to get here for the first time ever, with the OVER cashing in each of the school's first four games and five straight dating back to an 84-64 rout of the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers were five-point underdogs versus the Volunteers, and they have covered the spread in their last three games of the NCAA Tournament following a scare against the 12th-seeded New Mexico State Aggies in a 78-77 first-round win as six-point favorites.
The pace of this matchup will most likely be the key, as the Cavaliers obviously like to play at a much slower tempo. The total is sitting between 130.5 and 131.5 at sportsbooks on the March Madness odds, and Virginia would like to keep it UNDER again. Auburn is riding a 12-game winning streak (8-4 against the spread) but has seen the UNDER cash in each of its last three losses. For that reason, take the UNDER as the best bet in this first Final Four game.