No. 1 Virginia looks to smother No. 16 UMBC with defense
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — No. 1 seed Virginia (31-2) vs. No. 16 seed UMBC (23-10)
First round, South Region; Charlotte, North Carolina, Friday approximately 9:20 p.m. EDT
BOTTOM LINE: UMBC, which stands for University of Maryland, Baltimore County, won the American East Conference championship to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade. The Retrievers lost to No. 2-seeded Georgetown 66-47 in 2008 in their only other tournament appearance. This is the third time Virginia has been a No. 1 seed under coach Tony Bennett, losing in the Elite Eight to No. 10 Syracuse in 2016 and the Sweet 16 to No. 4 Michigan State in 2014.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS: The Cavaliers, college basketball’s unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll, enter as a 21-point favorite.
INURY UPDATE: Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year, has been ruled out for the tournament with a broken left wrist. The redshirt freshman gave the Cavaliers another perimeter scoring option off the bench, averaging 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 33 games. His absence probably won’t hurt the Cavaliers against UMBC, but could be a problem as they get deeper into the tournament.
CONNECTIONS: Retrievers coach Ryan Odom is quite familiar with Virginia. He’s the son of former Virginia assistant coach Dave Odom. Ryan Odom spent most of his childhood growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia while his father was on the Cavaliers staff.
DEFENSE: Virginia has the country’s best defense, surrendering just 53.4 points per game. The Cavaliers have only allowed one opponent to shoot better than 50 percent against them this season.