The madness has carried over into the month of April, as the Final Four stage of the NCAA Tournament is upon us. Only the Auburn Tigers, Virginia Cavaliers, Texas Tech Red Raiders, and the Michigan State Spartans are left standing from an original field composed of 68 teams. This coming Saturday, that group will be cut in half, as we are about to know which two teams will battle in the National Championship game. Now, let’s take a look at the picks key experts are making for the Final Four, by narrowing down which two squads they feel will appear on the court down the road on Monday April 8.
Expert picks and predictions for the 2019 NCAA Final Four stage of the March Madness tournament
Forbes – Alex Kay: Michigan State vs. Virginia
Alex Kay is liking the chances of Michigan State and Auburn to cover their respective spreads in the Final Four. While Kay hasn’t clearly picked the straight-up winners in those matchups, he seemed confident in the Tigers and the Spartans to keep themselves within striking distance of their favored opponents. For Auburn, a big key to success for the school against Virginia will be how they will be able to dictate the pace. There’s a big contrast in style, especially when it comes to their preferred speed of play, between the Tigers and the Cavaliers, and if Auburn could outrun the Wahoos all game long, then that could spell trouble for Tony Bennett and his boys. The Spartans, meanwhile, are coming off a win against pre-tournament heavy favorites Duke Blue Devils, so expect them riding a big wave of confidence. The Red Raiders are tough defensively and have an underrated offense which Michigan State both have to be wary of, but at least the Spartans will not have to worry about stopping Zion Williamson.
Bleacher Report — Kerry Miller: Texas Tech vs. Virginia
For Kerry Miller of Bleacher Report, Auburn’s March Madness ride will stop in the Final Four. If the Tigers drew a different team in the national finals, Miller would have likely selected Auburn, but Virginia is just too impressive and established for him to look the other way. Miller listed the things he likes about Virginia, including its efficient shooting and its renowned discipline that produces excellent results on both ends of the floor. That the Cavaliers are playing as though their first-round loss in last year’s March Madness is also a sign for Miller that Virginia is not a team that will get ousted in the Final Four by an opponent that’s missing a key player. In the other matchup, Miller likes the chances of Texas Tech, noting the team’s superior pressure defense that ranked 11th in the nation in opponents’ turnover percentage and 15th in opponents’ turnovers per game. Miller also mentioned that he simply just trusts more the supporting cast of the Red Raiders than that of the Spartans’.
Sporting News – Bill Bender: Michigan State vs. Virginia
When it comes to talent, Bender knows that the Spartans don’t have a player of the same caliber as projected NBA lottery pick Jarrett Culver, but he is convinced that Michigan State guard Cassius Winston will be able to have his way against Texas Tech’s defense. Another reason he is picking Michigan State to win is because of the team’s better rebounding, which could be the difference in this presumed tight contest. Bender also believes that the other Final Four matchup will result in a Virginia win. The Cavs have a vaunted defense that Bender thinks is sturdy enough to keep both Jared Harper and Bryce Brown from having a great game at the same time. For the Tigers to win, they need those two guards to make a killing on the floor, but Virginia has repeatedly proven it can slow down opposing offenses, notwithstanding the fact that the Cavs got torched in the Elite Eight by Carsen Edwards of the Purdue Boilermakers.
TopBet Writer – Ryan Simpson: Michigan State vs. Virginia
This site’s resident writer is expecting a national finals matchup between the Spartans and the Cavaliers. Both are battle-tested in the regular season and in the Big Dance, and both are among the teams expected to go deep in the tournament even before the season began. You can check out Ryan’s in-depth preview for the Texas Tech-Michigan State game here and the Auburn-Virginia showdown here.
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