Minneapolis is this year’s host for the 2019 Final Four with an interesting quartet competing for the ultimate prize in college basketball. This group of teams is an inspiring lot. No traditional blue bloods, though Michigan State boasts 10 Final Fours and national championships in 1979 with Magic Johnson and with Coach Tom Izzo in 2000 to its resume. UVA has been to 3 Final Fours now, but it’s been a while. The last 2 were in 1981 and 1984. The Cavaliers have not won a national championship. Auburn and Texas Tech have never been to the Final Four, but they are talented, experienced teams.
All 4 are blue collar outfits. Michigan State can defeat you with stellar defense and their amazing point guard, Cassius Winston, and some nice complimentary players. Texas Tech is another outstanding defensive team that can sink 3 pointers and wear you down. Virginia is another standout defensive group that plays pack line defense taking away most of the scoring in the paint with their aggressive close downs in the middle of the lane and with their length down low. Auburn is an electric offensive team led by their tremendous guards, Jared Harper and Bryce Brown. Harper scored 26 and Brown poured in 24 in a 77-71 Elite Eight overtime victory over Kentucky. Losing Chuma Okeke in the Sweet 16 against UNC was painful, but this Tiger team is a resilient group that can play pressure packed defense that causes multiple turnovers they can turn into points. They’re fast, athletic and can really knock down threes.
Here are predictions for this unique Final Four on Saturday.
Record since Sweet 16: 8-4
No.5 Midwest seed Auburn (30-9) vs. No.1 South seed
U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN. (66,655)
5:09 PM CT
Jim “Hello Friends” Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant, Trace
UVA by 5 1/2
The Auburn Tigers have been the hottest team in college basketball for the past month. In order to come out victorious against a tough UVA defense and some pretty clutch 3 point shooters in Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and DeAndre Hunter, the Tigers will have to make double digit 3’s. I see them putting up 30 or more. If they can sink 12 to 15, I very much like their chances. I like the Tigers to do that, get past UVA barely and move on to Monday Night.
Auburn 77, Virginia 74
No. 3 West seed Texas Tech (30-6) vs. No.2 East Seed Michigan State
7:49 PM CT
Jim, Bill, Grant, Trace
MIch State by 2 1/2
Like Auburn and UVA, these 2 teams are highly resilient. Michigan State battled through injuries to key players this season with their 2 constants being Tom Izzo on the bench and Cassius Winston on the floor. Chris Beard has done a phenomenal job in Lubbock and his team is aggressive and confident. These are 2 shutdown defensive teams. This is a tough one as the line shows. I like the Spartans to come out on top, but in a supreme battle like Auburn-Virginia. Cassius Winston and his lunch pale teammates get the job done slightly over a tough, hard nosed Red Raider team.