The Texas Tech Red Raiders were ranked 42nd in the AP Preseason Poll, as they lost plenty of talents that helped them get into a deep run in last year’s NCAA Tournament that saw them reach the Elite Eight round. With the tandem of Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith gone, Chris Beard was left with NBA-prospect Jarrett Culver and a bunch of players with a lot less shine. But here they are, set to make Texas Tech’s first appearance ever in the ultimate game of the Big Dance. The Virginia Cavaliers, meanwhile, were one of the favorites to win it all this year, but have been enduring a ton of doubting from people who think that the team’s loss to the UMBC Retrievers last year traumatized the Hoos so much that they will falter early in the national tournament. But like Texas Tech, Virginia is still dancing.
Who will win this Monday? See what the experts are saying about this clash between two programs with blue chips on their shoulders.
Expert Picks and Predictions for the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game Between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Virginia Cavaliers
Asbury Park Press – Jerry Carino: Virginia
Jerry Carino of Asbury Park Press is convinced of two things: that the national championship game is going to be a low-scoring affair and that, most notably, Virginia will take home the title to Charlottesville. While Carino acknowledges the strengths of Texas Tech, the Cavaliers just come across to him as a team with a better offensive flow and efficiency. Outside of those, Carino thinks Virginia is simply a team of destiny, set to make a total redemption from the a humbling and extremely embarrassing performance it suffered last year, when it became the first No. 1 seed in the tournament’s history to fall in the first round.
Sports Illustrated – Michael Beller: Virginia
Beller has seen enough of both Texas Tech and Virginia to say that the upcoming showdown between those two defensive-minded teams is going to be a slow grind. That said, he makes it clear that there’s enough talent on the floor to make the game thrilling, contrary to what many folks expect it to be. Both teams have players projected to be lottery picks in this year’s NBA Draft in Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter. They are both surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, with the Red Raiders having the likes of Matt Mooney, who led the team with 22 points in the Final Four win over the Michigan State Spartans, Davide Moretti, and Tariq Owens. Virginia, meanwhile, has, aside from Hunter, the tandem of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome along with an excellent rim protector in Mamadi Diakite. Beller is picking Virginia to win mostly because he thinks the Cavaliers are more than capable of containing the player that matters the most to Texas Tech, which is Culver. He also cites Virginia’s shooting that will pose headaches to the Red Raiders.
Heavy.com – Sam Dodge: Texas Tech
Sam Dodge is backing the underdog in the national championship game. In his breakdown of the upcoming ACC-Big 12 title, he says that he likes that Texas Tech is increased confidence each passing game in the tournament. Whereas Virginia had to rely on some crazy breaks to get them through games of late, Texas Tech has systematically broken down its past opponents. That was apparent once again in the Final Four in which the Red Raiders kept the Spartans’ offense in check while flexing their own muscles on the other side of the floor. Dodge also noted Texas Tech’s rattling defense that forces 23.1 turnover percentage, as a key factor that will push the Red Raiders into successfully bringing the program’s first national title to Lubbock.
TopBet Writer – Ryan Simpson: Virginia
TopBet’s own expert, Ryan Simpson, knows that Texas Tech and Virginia will co-author an extremely tight national championship game this Monday. Both teams have similar strengths. Per KenPom, the Red Raiders are tops in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, while the Cavaliers are fifth. In the end, though, Simpson is leaning towards Tony Bennett’s squad, which he thinks will end up cutting the nets at the conclusion of yet another eventful and unforgettable NCAA Tournament. You can read Simpson’s complete breakdown of the title game here.
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