As soon as the bracket was released you heard a lot of pundits proclaim that UNC Wilmington is going to upset Virginia in one of those No. 12 vs. No. 5 matchups that you always see them in. The Seahawks are a very dangerous double-digit seed with their style, but I think they may have run into their kryptonite in the Cavaliers, who is very dangerous with their own style that you have to prepare for in a short amount of time. This is one of the first games on Thursday and it could be a really fun one.
East Region: No. 12 UNC Wilmington Seahawks (29-5) vs. No 5 Virginia Cavaliers (22-10)
When: 12:40 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Where: Amway Center (Orlando, Fla.)
Line: Virginia -9
Keys for UNC Wilmington
The Seahawks can't get frustrated if they can't dictate their pace. According to Ken Pomeroy's stats, UNC Wilmington averages about 70 possessions per game while Virginia checks in at just under 60. The Seahawks went 2-1 against CAA foe Charleston this season, a team that also likes to slow things down. They don't have a ton of size which means the Cavaliers will go small, something they prefer.
Keys for Virginia
The Cavaliers need to identify early who is going to be the complementary scorer to London Perrantes. At times this season we've seen Devon Hall, Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and others fill that role. The inconsistency though has been an issue and Perrantes has had to shoulder the load. He went through a horrible slump towards the end of the year so he needs to have confidence, especially against this Seahawks defense.
The public wants to find their upset here, but I just don't think it'll happen. The Seahawks could have probably beaten almost any other No. 5 seed, but Virginia head coach Tony Bennett will have his team ready for this one. If Kyle Guy or Ty Jerome gets going, then the Cavaliers will run away. UNC Wilmington's best bet is to hope Virginia leading scorer London Perrantes is struggling and he turns it over against the press.
Prediction: Virginia 65, UNC Wilmington 57
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
(Top photo courtesy of www.virginiasports.com)