For the second time in three seasons, the Virginia Cavaliers will enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed. Virginia, top seed in the Midwest Region, will take on the Hampton Pirates in the first round in Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday.
Hampton will be playing in its sixth NCAA Tournament in program history. This is the Pirates’ second straight appearance after defeating South Carolina State to win the MEAC Tournament.
No. 16 Hampton Pirates (21-10) vs. No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (26-7)
When: 3:10 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Where: PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)
Line: Virginia -24
Keys for Hampton
If Hampton has any chance to do the unthinkable and upset Virginia, the Pirates will need to get their two-headed offensive attack going early. Reginald Johnson finished second in the MEAC in scoring at 18.7 points per game. Quinton Chievous finished fourth in the MEAC with 17 points per contest.
Keys for Virginia
ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon averaged 21.7 points per game during the ACC Tournament, but he struggled in Virginia's 61-57 loss to North Carolina in the championship game, as he shot just 6-for-22 from the field. If Brogdon can get involved offensively early, that will open up opportunities for Anthony Gill and some of the other Cavaliers.
It is likely Hampton has never played a suffocating defense like Virginia this season and that will be the difference in the game. The Cavaliers should create offensive opportunities from their turnovers. After having a sub-par performance against North Carolina, Brogdon should have a monster game against a Pirates team that will be overmatched.
Final Score: Virginia 85, Hampton 59
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.