Breakdown: Virginia road through the Midwest Region

virginia basketballVirginia (26-7) is the top seed in the Midwest Region, and opens the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Raleigh against MEAC champ Hampton (21-10).

The Pirates finished 160th in the final pre-tournament RPI with a 1-5 record against the RPI Top 100, with losses to RPI 13 SMU (105-72, Dec. 17), RPI 35 Colorado (95-53 on Dec. 19) and RPI 39 Princeton (89-59 on Jan. 30).

Hampton is ranked 222 in the power rankings, scoring 74.8 points per game (.999 points per possession) and giving up 73.8 points per game (1.048 points per possession), playing at a decently fast tempo – 72.2 possessions per game, 43rd nationally.

The Pirates are led by Reginald Johnson (18.3 ppg, 37.2% FG, 30.2% three-point FG) and Quinton Chievous (17 ppg, 11 rebounds/g, 57.1% FG).

HU shoots 41.5% from the field and 30.8% from three. Opponents shoot 42.4% from the field and 33.0% from three.

Hampton and Virginia played two common opponents in 2015-2016: Morgan State and William and Mary. The Cavs opened the season with an 86-48 win over Morgan State on Nov. 13 and defeated William and Mary 67-52 on Dec. 5; Hampton swept Morgan State (83-80 on Jan. 6, 87-79 on Feb. 15 and 83-81 on March 9), and lost to William and Mary 86-67 on Nov. 25.


Second-round matchups

The winner of the UVA-Hampton game plays the winner of the game between Texas Tech (19-12) and Butler (21-10) in the second round on Saturday.

Texas Tech is 34th in the final pre-tournament RPI, with a 3-8 record against the RPI Top 25, 6-9 record against the Top 50 and 8-10 record against the Top 100.

Among the Red Raiders’ wins were a Feb. 7 win at home over RPI 6 Oklahoma, a Feb. 10 home win over RPI 21 Iowa State, a Feb. 13 win at RPI 25 Baylor and a Jan. 2 win at home over RPI 27 Texas.

Texas Tech was 7-5 in its last 12 games, finishing with an upset loss in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament to TCU.

UVA and Texas Tech had one common opponent: West Virginia. The Cavs defeated WVU 70-54 in December; Texas Tech was swept in Big 12 play, 80-76 at home in January and 90-68 in Morgantown on March 2.

Butler is 54th in the final pre-tournament RPI, with a 3-5 record against the RPI Top 25, 4-8 against the Top 50 and 5-8 against the Top 100.

Among the Bulldogs’ wins were a Dec. 19 win over RPI 13 Purdue and a season sweep of RPI 22 Seton Hall.

Virginia and Butler had two common opponents: Miami and Villanova. UVA won two of its three with Miami, most recently in the ACC Tournament semifinals, while Butler lost to Miami 85-75 in November. Villanova was the other common opponent: the Cavs beat the Wildcats 86-75 in December, and Butler was swept by ‘Nova, losing at home 60-55 in January and in Philadelphia 77-67 three weeks ago.

Butler was 8-4 in its last 12, finishing with a 74-60 loss to Providence in the first round of the Big East Tournament on March 10.


Sweet 16

The #4 seed is Iowa State (21-11, RPI 21), and Purdue (26-8, RPI 14) is the #5. Arkansas Little-Rock (26-4, RPI 45) is the #12, and Iona (22-10, RPI 88) is the #13.


The other side of the bracket

Yeah, of course, there’s Michigan State (29-5, RPI 11). Whatever you want to say about conspiracies, how the Selection Committee seeds the field and the rest, you knew months ago that the ‘Hoos would have to get through Sparty to get to a Final Four.

The good news, such as it is: if the teams meet for the third straight year in the NCAA Tournament, it would be in the regional final.

– Story by Chris Graham

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