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Virginia's Latest Sports Betting Highlights
How Land-Based Casino Ballot Measures Could Shape Sports BettingNov. 6, 2020
Voters in Virginia overwhelmingly approved ballot measures that will expand casino gaming options. This means slots and table games for the Old Dominion, but the 2020 ballot measures could have further-reaching implications for sports betting.
Virginia Approves Sports Betting Regulations and Opens for Sportsbook ApplicationsSept. 14, 2020
At long last, the Virginia Lottery Board approved sports wagering regulations after nearly two months of public forum. Sportsbook operators can apply for one of 12 Virginia licenses between Oct. 15 and Oct. 31, and regulators will consider applications for up to 90 days. That would launch sports betting in Virginia sometime in January 2020. Professional leagues did get a surprise win when they were granted data access in the Virginia Lottery decision.
Virginia Releases Initial Proposed Regulations for Sports BettingJuly 15, 2020
Now that Virginia has legalized sports betting, the Virginia Lottery Board has only until Sept. 15 to build and approve regulations. Initial regulations stipulate that Virginia will have between four and 12 sportsbooks along with a 15% tax rate. The state also legalized casino gaming, giving the state five casinos, which are also eligible to apply for the 12 sports betting licenses. The board also introduced a Virginia Sports Bettors' Bill of Rights.
Virginia Officially Legalizes Sports WageringApril 29, 2020
Sports betting is officially legal in the state of Virginia! After some mostly administrative recommendations from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, the state approved both SB 384 and HB 896 as law. Sports betting officially becomes legal on July 1, but Virginians won't be able to wager just yet. The Virginia Lottery Board will then have until Sept. 15 to complete regulations with a targeted launch of late 2020.
Virginia Sports Betting Sites & Apps
Virginia will have an undetermined number of statewide mobile sports betting operators, but it will have at least four, one partnered with each of the four commercial casinos so far approved by voters.
It will also have somewhat reasonable fees for operators to enter the market ($250,000 for three years) and a favorable tax rate (15%). So you can expect national players like FanDuel and DraftKings to be present, plus plenty of others. The Virginia Lottery is required to “issue a number of permits that will maximize tax revenue collected pursuant to the bill,” so there will be no shortage of big-time operators there.
Here’s a list of who we expect to have a sports betting site and app in Virginia.
How Virginia Sports Betting Compares
We graded Virginia on its sports betting bill and experience relative to other states.
Mobile Betting Options: TBD
We'll update Virginia's mobile grading as more come online.
We'll have to see how deposits are set as the sports betting market takes shape.
Fair Pricing: TBD
Fair pricing evaluation is still pending in Virginia, but at least there will be competition across sportsbooks.
Sport Offerings: TBD
We don’t know exactly what sports will be offered as betting options in Virginia yet, so we're waiting to grade. Notably, there will be no in-state college betting options, which will lead to an automatic downgrade.
The Deal With In-Person Sports Betting in VA
Virginia was one of the last states without commercial or tribal casinos. Sports betting operators don't need to be tied to a brick-and-mortar casino to operate.
Virginia's bill did specify that five cities — Richmond, Norfolk, Danville, Portsmouth and Bristol — can build casinos and sportsbooks.
The later four states already approved casinos and Richmond will vote in fall 2021.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wanted NASCAR tracks Martinsville and Richmond Raceway included in the sports betting landscape.
He pushed these tracks to launch their own sportsbooks or partner with an existing operator.
The bill also allows a sports franchise that relocates to the state to have sports betting in its stadium.
When might this apply? The Washington Football Team might be headed to Virginia when their lease at FedEx Field in Andover, Md., expires in 2027.
All in all, don't expect in-person sports betting in Virginia for a while.
Virginia Sports Betting FAQ
When Will Sports Betting Be Live in Virginia?
FanDuel Sportsbook, one of the major operators in the U.S., announced that they would be launching online sports betting in Virginia at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 21. There has been no word on any other sportsbook operators launching as well, though we'd expect that to happen within the next week.
Can I Bet on Sports Online in Virginia?
As of Thursday, January 21, yes, you can bet on sports online in Virginia. The bill includes online and in-person sports betting. It’s a favorable bill for bettors in the state.
Can I Use FanDuel Sportsbook in Virginia?
As of Thursday, January 21, FanDuel Sportsbook is officially live in the state, offering fully online betting to Virginians. Check out our review of FanDuel here.
What Sports Can I Bet on in Virginia?
Virginia will have all the major sports available, with a few notable exceptions:
- No betting on Virginia-based college teams. New Jersey and Illinois are the other states with this carveout, and it hasn’t hurt the state much from a revenue perspective. But it is a bummer for anyone who’s a fan of one of the four FBS football teams or 14 Division I men’s basketball teams in the state.
- No live betting on any college sports.
- No betting on college player props.
Who Runs Virginia Sports Betting?
When Will More Sportsbooks Be Live in Virginia?
All we know right now is that FanDuel Sportsbook is launching on Thursday, January 21. We'd expect some of the major players like DraftKings, BetMGM, William Hill, BetRivers and PointsBet to join the party as soon as possible -- likely within a few weeks.
How Do I Sign Up for a Sportsbook in Virginia?
There are four steps to signing up in Virginia: Choose a sportsbook, create an account, deposit money online (not in person), and place a bet. It's incredibly simple, but see here for more information if needed.
How old do you have to be to bet in Virginia?
You must be at least 21 years old to place a bet in Virginia. That's the case with other U.S. states that have legalized online sports betting.
Will it be legal to bet on college sports in Virginia?
No, unfortunately the regulations currently prevent any betting on in-state collegiate teams such as Virginia or Virginia Tech. That rule also exists in New Jersey and Illinois. Bettors can bet on all college games that don't include Virginia-based teams.
Do I need to be a Virginia resident to bet online in the state?
No, you do not have to be a resident of Virginia to make a bet in the state. You just have to have an account and be located within state lines at the time you place your bet.
Do I need to be a Virginia resident to deposit and withdraw funds at a sportsbook?
No. In order to place a bet with a Virginia online sportsbook, you must have an account and be located within the state lines. And to deposit and withdraw funds, even that is not a requirement. You can move money in and out of your account from anywhere with an internet access.
Will I be able to bet on my phone in Virginia?
Yes, as of Thursday, Jan. 21, you can bet anywhere in Virginia with an internet access. That means users will be able to create accounts, deposit and bet all with any internet-capable device. Most sportsbooks, if not all, will have dedicated mobile apps as well.
Will Bovada be legal in Virginia?
No, Bovada is an illegal, offshore sportsbook that is not legal in any U.S. state, including Virginia.
Sports Betting for Beginners
New to sports betting? Awesome, it's not too early to start studying! Check out our 11 sports betting tips for beginners so you can get started on the right foot in Virginia.
Sports Betting Glossary
Sports betting has a language of its own that you’ll want to get familiar with if you’re new to the space. Get up to speed here with our sports betting glossary.
Sports Betting Mistakes to Avoid
You’re probably ready to unload some bets on the Liberty Flames, but you need to be responsible if you’re going to stay afloat in the sports betting world.
Here are nine mistakes for Virginians to avoid.
Virginia Sports Betting Timeline
Early April 2020
Virginia Teams to Bet on
States don't need their own professional team to have a strong sports market. Technically speaking, Virginia doesn't have any pro teams. In fact, Virginia is the most populous U.S state without a pro franchise playing within its borders. But the truth is that Virginia is more or less "home" to all of the Washington D.C. pro teams, and the fan base is especially strong in Northern Virginia. The Washington Football Team (NFL) and Washington Capitals (NHL) even have practice facilities and team headquarters in Northern Virginia.
Some Virginians root for teams from Baltimore or Carolina, or even others around the country, but sports wagering knows no team allegiances. Virginia bettors can wager on any team around the country or world, but we expect big bets to be placed on these DC-based sports teams soon!
Pro Sports Teams
NFL Betting in Virginia
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team is a five-time NFL champion. It won championship games before the Super Bowl era in 1937 and 1942 and then won the Super Bowl in 1982, 1987, and 1991, its most recent Super Bowl appearance. Those three Super Bowl wins tie Washington for seventh-most all-time. Washington has also finished as league runners-up six times, twice in the Super Bowl era. In all, Washington has played for the NFL championship 11 times in 24 postseason appearances.
Washington is undergoing a transition after choosing to change its name in 2020. The team is officially the Washington Football Team for now until another team name is chosen later. Washington hired Ron Rivera to change team culture and drafted star pass rusher Chase Young No. 2 in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Burgundy and Gold play their home games at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
Washington Football Team Rivalry #1: vs. Dallas Cowboys. The rivalry between Dallas and Washington is one of the NFL's oldest, and it is often rated as the best rivalry in all of the NFL. The teams have played in the same division since 1961 and meet twice every season in an often contentious game. A Thanksgiving meeting in 2016 was the most-watched game in the history of the NFL. The Cowboys dominate the all-time rivalry, but Washington has won both playoff meetings.
Washington Football Team Rivalry #2: vs. New York Giants. New York and Washington have been rivals for the better part of the century, and the rivalry was especially heated in the 1980s and early 90s when the teams won back-to-back Super Bowls twice, first in 1987-88 and then again in 1991-92. The teams play twice each season as NFC East division rivals.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on football in Virginia:
NBA Betting in Virginia
The Washington Wizards are the closest NBA team for most Virginians. That was true when the franchise played in Baltimore, too, and then the franchise moved to Washington D.C. and became the Bullets until 1997. The team played in the NBA Finals four times in the 1970s with NBA legends Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. They won their only championship in 1978, with Unseld named Finals MVP. Unseld also went on to win league MVP the following season, the only MVP in franchise history.
The team is nowhere near as dominant today but hopes to bounce back from its rebuild with the return of a healthy John Wall. The Wizards play their home games at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., which they share with the Washington Capitals (NHL). Scotty Brooks coaches the team.
Washington Wizards Rivalry: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. This is something of a regional rivalry, but the rivalry peaked between 2006 and 2008 when the Wizards and Cavs played three straight years in the playoffs. That was the heyday of Gilbert Arenas, but unfortunately, it was also the rise of LeBron James, and James's Cavaliers beat Washington all three times in contested matchups. Cleveland also had a memorable upset over Washington in the Cavs' first playoff appearance, hitting three last-second game-winners.
WNBA Betting in Virginia
In 2019, the Washington Mystics won their first and only NBA championship. They were led there by Elena Delle Donne, who won the MVP and led the Mystics to the WNBA Finals in back-to-back seasons. Washington initially joined the WNBA in 1998. The Mystics had never made the WNBA Finals before appearing in 2018 and 2019, but they have made it to the playoffs in 10 of the past 20 seasons. The Mystic plays their home games at St. Elizabeth's East Arena in Washington, D.C.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on basketball in Virginia:
MLB Betting in Virginia
The Washington Nationals have existed as such since 2005. Before that, this franchise was the Montreal Expos. The Expos began playing as an expansion team in 1969 and was nearly contracted before relocating to Washington, D.C. In a strange twist, they were the first MLB team to be relocated since a team from Washington left in 1971, in that case, the Washington Senators moving to Texas.
It was a rocky transition to Washington, D.C., but the franchise struck gold with two straight number one draft picks in 2009 and 2010 with pitcher Stephen Strasburg and slugger Bryce Harper. The Nats finally made the playoffs for the first time in 2012, winning the NL East for the first of four times this decade. Of course, the most memorable season came in 2019 when the Nationals made it to their only franchise World Series and defeated the Houston Astros in seven to win the championship.
Washington plays its home games at Nationals Park on South Capitol Street in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. Dave Martinez manages the Nats.
Washington Nationals Rivalry: vs. Baltimore Orioles. The Beltway Series began officially began when MLB introduced interleague play in 2006, allowing these teams to play twice a season despite Washington playing in the National League and Baltimore in the AL. It's an interesting rivalry because Washington is still relatively new to the area, and the Orioles were the region's only team previously, with many fans still sticking with the Os.
It didn't use to be this way, of course. Washington used to have the Senators, multiple versions in fact, while the Orioles were formerly the St. Louis Browns, so fandom has gone back and forth over the years, and Baltimore's franchise was not exactly excited to welcome Washington back into the area when the Expos relocated. Washington and Baltimore are only 40 miles apart, and any fan in the Maryland-Virginia-D.C. region is liable to be on either side of the rivalry. Baltimore leads the all-time series.
The Orioles were one of the eight charter teams in the American League in 1901, but they were not the Orioles then, nor were they in Baltimore. The franchise began as the Milwaukee Brewers for one year, then played for 52 seasons as the St. Louis Browns. In 1953, the team moved to Baltimore and changed their name to the Orioles in honor of Maryland's state bird. For decades, Baltimore was the only MLB team in the area since the Washington Nationals did not relocate until 2005, so many Virginians still root for the Os.
The Orioles were far more successful in Baltimore than they had been previously. The Browns only won the pennant once in 52 seasons. Still, Baltimore played in six World Series between 1966 and 1983, winning three times with Hall of Famers like Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and Cal Ripken, Jr. Baltimore has not been back to the World Series since 1983, one of the longest droughts in baseball. In fact, they've only made the playoffs five times since winning that title and had 14 straight losing seasons at one point.
The Orioles play their home games at the beautiful Camden Yards in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. Brandon Hyde manages them.
Baltimore Orioles Rivalry: vs. Washington Nationals. This is not a longtime rivalry in actuality, but in other ways, it is. The region has long-fought for allegiance between these teams, but it has only had both of them in the area for a decade and a half. Washington, D.C. had multiple versions of the Senators but had been vacated for decades as the Orioles relocated and took the region's fandom. Baltimore was less than welcoming when the Nats relocated from Montreal in 2005.
The following season, baseball introduced the interleague play, allowing these cross-league rivals to meet twice a year in the Beltway Series. Neither was particularly good yet, but the rivalry was heated anyway because of the region's long history and the teams being only 40 miles apart. Baltimore currently leads the all-time series head-to-head, though Washington has the upper hand because of their recent World Series win and Baltimore's eternal rebuild.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on baseball in Virginia:
NHL Betting in Virginia
The Capitals finally broke through and won their first and only Stanley Cup in 2018, as Alexander Ovechkin finally made good on his superstar status and lifted the game's biggest trophy. The Caps began to play in 1974 as an expansion franchise and originally played their home games in Landover, Maryland. They moved to Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., in 1997, where they play today.
The Capitals have been one of the best teams in the NHL over the past decade. The team won their first Presidents' Trophy in 2010, given to the best regular-season team, then won two more of them in 2016 and 2017. The Caps have played in two Stanley Cups, a loss in 1998 and that sweet, sweet victory in 2018. Peter Laviolette coaches the team.
Washington Capitals Rivalry #1: vs. Pittsburgh Penguins. This has become one of the biggest rivalries in the NHL over the past decade with the emergence of the league's brightest two stars in Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. These teams are only 250 miles apart and often meet in the playoffs, with the Pens winning a dominating nine of 11 series. Pittsburgh has been a constant thorn in the Caps' side. These teams have won six Stanley Cups between them, and they've defeated the other en route to all six Cups.
Washington Capitals Rivalry #2: vs. New York Rangers. This rivalry was struck in the 1980s when the teams were placed in the same division, but the rivalry heated up in the 90s and hit its peak over the past decade when the Caps and Rangers played five times in the playoffs between 2009 and 2015. The Capitals lead the all-time series, but the Rangers have won once more when it matters most, leading the playoff series by one and winning the three most recent playoff matchups.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on hockey in Virginia:
MLS Betting in Virginia
D.C. United began as one of the 10 charter clubs of the MLS in 1996. They were an absolute dynasty in the early going under head coach Bruce Arena, winning eight of the first 13 MLS championships. D.C. United have won the most MLS Supporters' Shields, given to the club with the best record in the regular season, and they were the first team to win the Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup consecutively. United has won the MLS Cup four times and the U.S. Open Cup three times.
D.C. United has also won above and beyond the MLS. They are two MLS clubs ever to win a CONCACAF tournament, winning the 1998 Champions' Cup. They also won the Copa Interamericana in 1998 against a Brazilian club, marking the only time in MLS history that one of its clubs has won an intercontinental championship. Add it all up, and D.C. United is, without a doubt, the most successful club in MLS history. United play their home games at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
D.C. United Rivalry: vs. New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have been one of the more successful teams in the MLS recently, especially out East, and that alone is enough to make them a major rival for D.C. United. The clubs have met an incredible 13 times in a playoff format. They play at least twice a season and compete for the Atlantic Cup. United leads the all-time series.
NWSL Betting in Virginia
The Washington Spirit is in its eighth season in the NWSL after entering the league in 2013. The Spirit won only three games in their inaugural season but leaped into the playoffs the next year and made it to the semifinals three straight seasons from 2014 through 2016. That final year was the Spirit's finest with a run to the championship game, but Washington's season ended in heartbreak after a loss to Western New York in penalties.
The Spirit has a unique arrangement and split their home games between three stadiums in three different states or districts. Washington's main stadium is the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Maryland. Still, they also play some home games at Audi Park in Washington, D.C., and others at Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia. The Spirit is looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since that heartbreaking final in 2016.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on hockey in Virginia:
College Sports Teams
Virginia loves its college sports, with football and basketball leading the way but, sadly, state law does not allow betting on any of these teams:
College Football Betting in Virginia
Virginia Cavaliers Football
Virginia has been one of college football's great and incisive programs since its inception in 1888. Virginia had 28 straight winning seasons to start its tenure and won 12 southern championships, and they were the first program outside of the Northeast to defeat perennial powerhouse Yale in 1915. Virginia also played a significant role in shaping the game's early code of ethics, eligibility, and safety.
The program fell on hard times by the middle of the 20th century but rose back to power in the 80s and claimed its first No. 1 ranking in 1990. In 1995, Virginia became the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to defeat the conference powerhouse, Florida State. The Cavaliers still play in the ACC and win their first-ever division title in 2019, playing in the Orange Bowl for the first time since the school turned down an invitation in 1951. Virginia is coached by Bronco Mendenhall and plays its home games at Scott Stadium on campus in Charlottesville.
Virginia Cavaliers Rivalry #1: vs. Virginia Tech Hokies. These in-state rivals meet every year for the Commonwealth Cup, typically on Thanksgiving weekend. The rivalry has gone back and forth over the years with several long streaks, but Virginia Tech leads the all-time series with just over 100 all-time meetings. Three times this century, the game had served as a de facto division championship game in the ACC, including 2019, when Virginia won.
Virginia Cavaliers Rivalry #2: vs. North Carolina Tar Heels. The South's Oldest Rivalry is exactly that. These teams have been playing since the 1800s and dominated southern football early, winning a southern championship in 12 of 14 years between 1889 and 1902. This is the second most played major conference rivalry game, and the ACC foes have played every year since 1919 other than during the war hiatus. It was such a major rivalry that President Coolidge attended the rivalry game in 1928. UNC holds a narrow series lead all-time.
Virginia Cavaliers Rivalry #3: vs. Florida State Seminoles. This is somewhat of a newer rivalry by Virginia standards but every bit as heated and historic. Florida State had never lost an ACC game when Virginia defeated them in 1995, spoiling the Noles' perfect 29-0 conference record. That seminal win led to the creation of the Jefferson-Eppes Trophy for the winner of this game, though the teams are on opposite sides of the ACC and no longer meet annually.
Virginia Tech Hokies Football
The Hokies football program has slowly worked its way up from mostly irrelevant to a national powerhouse, peaking under nearly three decades of football with College Football Hall of Fame Coach Frank Beamer. Under Beamer, Virginia Tech joined the Big East Conference and then the Atlantic Coast Conference, where they play today. The Hokies made it to the BCS National Championship Game in 2000 with freshman phenom QB Michael Vick, even leading Florida State in the fourth quarter before falling. Virginia Tech's No. 3 finish was the state's highest ever in the AP poll.
The Hokies have played in 33 bowl games all-time and are currently on a streak of 27 consecutive bowl appearances, the longest bowl streak of any program in the country, dating back to 1993. Virginia Tech has 11 conference championships, including four in the ACC. The Hokies play their home games at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, widely recognized as one of the loudest stadiums and best home-field advantages in the country. Justin Fuente coaches Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech Hokies #1: vs. Virginia Cavaliers. These in-state rivals meet every year for the Commonwealth Cup, typically on Thanksgiving weekend. The rivalry has gone back and forth over the years with several long streaks, but Virginia Tech leads the all-time series with just over 100 all-time meetings. Three times this century, the game has served as a de facto division championship game in the ACC, with Virginia Tech winning twice.
Virginia Tech Hokies #2: vs. West Virginia Mountaineers. These Appalachian rivals played every year from 1973 to 2005, but the rivalry has gone dormant thanks to conference realignment. The teams play for the Black Diamond Trophy, which symbolizes the region's rich coal heritage. West Virginia leads the all-time series, but Virginia Tech won the Black Diamond Trophy in six of nine years it was played for.
Virginia Tech Hokies #3: vs. Miami Hurricanes. This rivalry used to be completely one-sided, with Miami winning the first 12 meetings, including two bowl games. It's gone Virginia Tech's way since the teams joined the ACC together in 2004, with the Hokies winning 14 of the last 22 meetings. Between 2000 and 2005, the teams played four times with both ranked in the national top 10, splitting with two wins each.
Liberty Flames Football
What a meteoric rise the Liberty football program has been on! The football program didn't even begin until 1973 when Liberty joined the NAIA. The Flames moved up to Division II in 1980, then to Division I-AA (now FCS) in 1988. They finally joined FBS (formerly Division I-A) in 2018 and are playing as an independent. And after a perfect start to the 2020 season, Liberty moved into the AP Top 25 for the first time.
The Flames played in their first bowl game ever in 2019, winning the Cure Bowl in Orlando. Liberty plays its home games at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg. Hugh Freeze coaches the Flames. Liberty does not have an established football rival yet because of their quick rise through the ranks.
Old Dominion Monarchs Football
Old Dominion first played football in 1930 as the William & Mary Norfolk Division Braves, but the program was disbanded after 1941. The university didn't play football again for almost seven decades, restarting as an FCS team (formerly Division I-AA) in 2009. Then the Monarchs moved up to the top level for the 2014 season, joining Conference USA.
Old Dominion recorded its biggest win ever in September 2018 when they stunned in-state rival, and #13-ranked Virginia Tech in front of a record home crowd, their first and only win over a ranked team. That team also saw Old Dominion get their first player, Oshane Ximines, drafted to the NFL. The Monarchs play their games at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk and are coached by Ricky Rahne. Old Dominion did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
James Madison Dukes Football
Over the past half a decade, James Madison has become an absolute powerhouse at the FCS level. The Dukes won their second national championship in 2016 and played in the national title game three times in the four-season between 2016 and 2019. If not for North Dakota State, James Madison might well be an FCS dynasty right now.
The Dukes have played football since 1972. They played in both Division II and Division III before moving to Division I-AA (FCS) in 1980. James Madison joined the Colonial Athletic Association in 2007 and have won the conference five times. The Dukes have played in the FCS playoffs 16 times, with an impressive record of 20-13 and national championships in 2004 and 2016. James Madison plays its home games at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg. Curt Cignetti coaches the Dukes. They played football in the spring this year due to the pandemic.
James Madison Dukes Rivalry: vs. Richmond Spiders. These in-state rivals have been longtime division foes. Between the two, they've won 14 conference championships since 1998, along with three national titles. Over the years, the rivalry has intensified, with JMU a big public school and Richmond a small private one. The rivalry even hosted ESPN College Gameday at Bridgeforth Stadium in 2015, with Richmond pulling the 59-49 upset. James Madison leads the all-time series by one.
Recommended resources to help you bet smartly on college football in Virginia:
College Basketball Betting in Virginia
Virginia Cavaliers Men's Basketball
The Virginia Cavaliers are the reigning NCAA champions. Technically, they should have conceded their crown in March, but because of the pandemic-canceled NCAA tournament, Virginia is still the most recent team to cut down the nets as champs. And what a title run that 2019 season was! Just one year prior, Virginia had been embarrassed as the first 1-seed in the history of the men's tournament to be upset by a 16-seed in the first round when they lost to Maryland-Baltimore County.
But in 2019, everything was different. The Cavs pulled a miraculous comeback against Purdue to make the Final Four, then defeated Auburn and Texas Tech to win the school's first-ever men's basketball championship. Kyle Guy was named Most Outstanding Player, and he, Ty Jerome, and others will be Hoos legends forever. That was Virginia's first Final Four since 1984 and only their third ever as a team.
The Cavs play in the Atlantic Coast Conference and have won the regular-season title nine times, most of any ACC team outside of Tobacco Road by far. They've made 23 NCAA tournaments but had struggled once they got there until exorcising their demons in 2019. Future Hall of Famer Tony Bennett coaches Virginia. The Hoos play their home games at the John Paul Jones Arena on campus in Charlottesville.
Virginia Cavaliers Rivalry #1: vs. Virginia Tech Hokies. These teams haven't always played, but they've been longtime rivals either way. Virginia Tech always felt like Virginia got its spot in the ACC and held a grudge for five decades before they finally joined and added two games against Virginia each year. The two biggest NCAA schools in Virginia compete across all varsity sports in the Commonwealth Clash. Virginia has dominated the rivalry in basketball, as with most sports, but the rivalry games are always fierce.
Virginia Cavaliers Rivalry #2: vs. North Carolina Tar Heels. UVA and UNC are the two oldest universities in the ACC and have competed for the conference's top for years. The rivalry peaked in the 1980s with Ralph Sampson's Cavs and Michael Jordan's Tar Heels defining the era. The rivalry is peaking again with the teams playing for the ACC Tournament Championship twice in the last five years. North Carolina dominates the all-time rivalry, but Virginia has played them evenly in recent years.
Virginia Cavaliers Rivalry #3: vs. Louisville Cardinals. This "rivalry" is living proof that rivalries cannot be created just because someone says so. When Louisville joined the ACC earlier this decade, these teams were designated as rivals, but the rivalry never took. Louisville cares way more about Kentucky and Indiana, and Virginia prioritizes Virginia Tech and the North Carolina foes. Another reason the rivalry never fired up — Virginia has crushed Louisville head to head. The Cavs have won 16 of 21 matchups, including a crazy March 2018 game in which the Cavs scored five points in the final 0.9 seconds to shock Louisville. Both teams have won a championship in the past decade, but the rivalry is still yet to spark much.
Virginia Tech Hokies Men's Basketball
The Hokies first started playing basketball in 1909 but had a long and winding road to relevance at the highest level. Virginia Tech played in some conferences over the years, including the Southern Conference for over four decades and much shorter stints in the Metro Conference, Atlantic 10, and Big East. Finally, in 2004, after waiting half a century, Virginia Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
In the ACC, the Hokies basketball program has begun to blossom. Virginia Tech has made the NCAA tournament each of the past three seasons for the first time and also made the Sweet Sixteen for only its second time in 2019. The Hokies didn't make the tournament until 1967, but they advanced to the Elite Eight that year, still their furthest run ever. Virginia Tech plays its home games at Cassell Coliseum on campus in Blacksburg. Mike Young coaches the Hokies.
Virginia Tech Hokies Rivalry: vs. Virginia Cavaliers. These in-state schools have always been rivals, but the rivalry has risen to prominence over the past two decades since Tech joined Virginia in the ACC. Virginia Tech had long held a grudge against Virginia because they had been chosen for the ACC over five decades prior while the Hokies were left out. The teams compete across all varsity sports in the Commonwealth Clash. Virginia dominates the rivalry historically, but the teams first met as top-10 foes in 2019. They play at least twice a year every season in the ACC.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams Men's Basketball
VCU basketball has had a heck of a decade. Few outsides of Virginia would have even known what the letters of VCU stood for 10 years ago, but they certainly did now after a memorable Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2011. Much like fellow Virginia underdog George Mason had done five years earlier, the Rams began as an 11-seed and made a run to the Final Four. VCU had to start one step even further away, winning a play-in game against UCLA. They then upset Georgetown, Purdue, and Kansas en route to the Final Four.
Unlike George Mason, that was not a blip for VCU, and things did not return to normal. In fact, the Rams made seven consecutive NCAA tournaments from that Final Four in 2011 through 2017. VCU has won eight other tournament games outside of that Final Four run, all of them in the round of 64. The most memorable came as an 11-seed in 2007 when the Rams shocked Duke on an Eric Maynor jumper in the final seconds.
The Rams have 17 NCAA tournament appearances overall, and a very impressive count of 13 tournament wins. VCU joined the Atlantic 10 Conference for the 2012-13 season and still plays there. The Rams play their home games at the E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on campus in Richmond. Mike Rhoades coaches Virginia Commonwealth.
George Mason Patriots Men's Basketball
George Mason does not have a long basketball history. Still, the program rose to prominence out of nowhere in 2006 when they made a memorable Cinderella run to the Final Four under longtime coach Jim Larranaga. Before that year, the Patriots had never even won an NCAA tournament game and were one of the last teams in the draw. As an underdog 11-seed, George Mason upset three of the college's blue blood to make the Final Four: Michigan State, North Carolina, and Connecticut. That tied for the lowest tournament seed to ever make the Final Four.
The Patriots moved to the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2014. They've only made the NCAA tournament twice since their Final Four run but did win another upset in 2011, their last appearance. George Mason plays its home games at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax. Dave Paulsen coaches them.
Old Dominion Monarchs Men's Basketball
Old Dominion first fielded a basketball team in 1930 and won a Division II national championship in 1975. Soon after, Old Dominion made a move to Division I for the 1976-77 season. The Monarchs made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 1980 and won their first tournament game in 1986. Old Dominion also won a single tournament game in 1995 and 2010, but the Monarchs have never advanced past the second round.
Old Dominion has 12 tournament appearances, most recently in 2019. The Monarchs play their home games at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk and compete in Conference USA. Jeff Jones coaches them.
Richmond Spiders Men's Basketball
Richmond may be a smaller basketball program on the NCAA level, but they have developed a serious reputation as a giant killer when it comes to the NCAA tournament. The first shocker was as a 12-seed over Charles Barkley's 5-seed Auburn in 1984, the biggest upset in tournament history at the time. Four years later, they topped that one as a 13-seed when they beat defending national champion 4-seed Indiana. In 1991, they set a new record when they became the first 15-seed to win a game, defeating 2-seed Syracuse. The Spiders also won as a 14-seed in 1998. They're the only basketball program with wins as 12, 13, 14, and 15-seeds.
These days, Richmond is too strong a program to get a seed that low. They joined the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2001 and have won the conference tournament once, in 2011. Richmond has only made the NCAA tournament nine times, most recently in that 2011 season, but they sure are dangerous when they get there. The Spiders play their home games at the Robins Center in Richmond. Chris Mooney coaches them.
Liberty Flames Men's Basketball
Unlike their football program, which is barely a decade old, Liberty has played basketball for one year after the University was founded in 1971. The Flames started in Division II and NAIA before joining Division I in 1988. Liberty played most of its D-I time in the Big South Conference but joined the Atlantic Sun in 2018, where they compete today.
Liberty is one of the world's biggest Christian universities. They play their home games at the Vines Center in Lynchburg and are coached by Ritchie McKay. The Flames have made four NCAA tournament appearances and won their first-ever game in their most recent appearance, an upset as a 12-seed over Mississippi State in 2019. They were even better the following season and finished 30-4, but there was no NCAA tournament due to the pandemic.
Recommended resources to help you bet smartly on college basketball in Virginia:
NCAA DI Basketball & Football
NCAA DI Basketball
Pro Sports Teams
Virginians love their NASCAR in particular. The state is home to four annual races in the NASCAR Cup Series. The biggest one is at Richmond Raceway, known as "America's Premier Short Track," and even has a "Virginia is for Racing Lovers visitors center. Martinsville Speedway is another short, speedy track, and many Virginians travel to nearby Bristol, Tennessee, for more big races. Virginia loves Denny Hamlin in particular, who got his start in Chesterfield and is the 2020 Daytona 500 champion.
You can place big bets at some of these Virginia NASCAR races and other key Virginia athletic events:
- ValleyStar Credit Union 300
- Xfinity 500
- Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500
- Federated Auto Parts 400
- Dominion Energy Charity Classic
More Reading on Virginia
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