2023 NCAA Tournament No. 13 Furman vs. No. 4 Virginia odds: Underdog Paladins taking most betting action of any team Thursday
The ACC wasn't nearly as strong as usual this year in men's college basketball – in part because North Carolina, the preseason favorite, hugely disappointed. Perhaps that's part of the reason why bettors at BetMGM are crushing No. 13 seed Furman, the Southern Conference champion, at +5.5 for Thursday's NCAA Tournament South Region first-round matchup against No. 4 Virginia, the co-ACC regular-season champion. Check out SportsLine's full projected brackets here.
As of this writing, Furman-Virginia, which tips at 12:40 p.m. ET in Orlando, is the most-wagered game of the day, but that's to be somewhat expected because it's such an early tip. Furman has gotten both the most tickets and highest handle of any team today per BetMGM.
The Paladins (27-7) tied Samford for the Southern Conference regular-season title and then beat Chattanooga way back on March 6 in the conference title game. Furman, which has won six straight games and 14 of 15, is making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1980. It is 1-6 all-time in the Big Dance, with that victory coming in 1974.
Fifth-year seniors Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson were both named first-team All-Southern selections and finalists for the Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award, given to the nation's top mid-major player. Slawson might be an NBA draft pick this summer and is averaging 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 blocked shots per game as the SoCon Player of the Year. Bothwell is the SoCon's leading scorer at 18 points per game and has tallied 20 or more points 12 times this season. They have combined to lead Furman to 115 wins in their five seasons.
Furman did play an ACC team this season, losing 92-73 at NC State on Dec. 13. It hasn't played Virginia since December 2004.
Since 1985, there have been 31 upsets of No. 13 seeds over No. 4 seeds with an overall record of 31-113. All four No. 4 seeds advanced last year but three of the four games were decided by four points or fewer. The winner of Thursday's game will face advance to face the winner of No. 12 Charleston and No. 5 seed San Diego State on Saturday,
The other two most popular wagers thus far for today's games: West Virginia at -2.5 against Maryland and Oral Roberts, on national-best 17-game winning streak, +6.5 against Duke, which has won nine in a row. Both Furman and Oral Roberts make for intriguing upset picks.
"This year's NCAA tournament is wide open," said BetMGM Sports Trader Seamus Magee. "We are expecting more action than ever. We're crossing our fingers that we don't get cleaned out by a massive underdog run like Saint Peter's last year."
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