The Final Four is set and we have some very interesting semifinal matchups this weekend in Minneapolis. Auburn made their first ever Final Four and face the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers. Texas Tech is also in their first Final Four and will matchup against Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. The Final Four looks to be a difficult handicap this year, and I honestly don’t love the lines of either game. We finished up 1-1 in our Elite Eight predictions last week and the full results are below.
Gonzaga – 4 over Texas Tech – L
Virginia – 4.5 over Purdue – W
Auburn Tigers + 6 (21-16-1 ATS) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (25-11 ATS)
Auburn has won twelve games in a row overall, and in the tournament they have taken out Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. The Tigers have taken and hit a ton of 3’s thus far and have a lighting quick backcourt led by Jared Harper and Bryce Brown. They will play without star forward Chuma Okeke who tore his ACL against Carolina and missed the game against Kentucky. Virginia had an incredible win over Purdue to get to the Final Four. They looked to be dead in the water before Mamadi Diakite hit a short jumper to force overtime. Kyle Guy broke out of his slump with 25 key points in the OT win over Purdue.
Auburn likes to run and gun and the Cavaliers like to slow down the pace and control tempo. Virginia is led by a tremendous defense and their offense has improved this year which is a main reason they have made it this far. For Auburn to advance, they need to shoot well from long range and play well in the half court. Virginia does not turn the ball over, which will limit the amount of transition points for the Tigers. Auburn is 4-1 ATS over their last five game and Virginia is 17-8 ATS over their past 25 games. I was all over Virginia until the line jumped to six points. That is too many points to lay with the Cavaliers. I think UVA wins the game, but I just don’t feel comfortable they will cover.
I also lean under the total in this matchup which is 131. I know the majority of the money is coming in on the over which makes sense due to the low total. However, with the Virginia defense and the way they are going to control the tempo it will be a low scoring game. The teams will also be playing in a football stadium which seats 70,000 people. This is a completely different environment and expect some nerves and an adjustment period in regards to shooting the basketball. Auburn + 6 and lean the under 131.
Texas Tech Red Raiders + 2.5 ( 19-16-1 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans ( 27-11 ATS)Both teams had to win games as underdogs to make it to Minneapolis. Texas Tech had to beat Gonzaga to advance, and MSU had to defeat the tournament favorite Duke Blue Devils to get to this point. This is Tom Izzo’s eighth Final Four and he has the massive experience advantage over Tech head coach Chris Beard who is making his first trip to the Final Four.
The line has MSU favored by 2.5 and it has barely moved at all since the matchup was confirmed last weekend. These programs pride themselves on defense and the ability to dominate their opponents. The Red Raiders have been in the top five in scoring defense all season and they were able to frustrate and contain one of the best offensive teams in country in Gonzaga. The Spartans are also a very solid team defensively and only give up 65 points per game. Michigan State statistically has a much better offense than Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders have turned the corner in the tournament thus far. Tech is 13- 1 SU in their past 14 games, and the Spartans are 14-1 SU over their last 15 games. This is a even matchup and could go either way. I love the play of Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston, but I slightly favor Texas Tech. Jarrett Culver is a future star at the next level and is the best player still playing in the tournament. In a game this close you’ll typically see me siding with the team catching points. Take the Red Raiders + 2.5