Kentucky’s Tyler Herro (14) and Immanuel Quickley celebrate Friday (Charlie Riedel)
Kentucky’s Tyler Herro (14) and Immanuel Quickley celebrate Friday (Charlie Riedel)|Associated Press
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NCAA Sunday: Staff Selections for Duke vs. Michigan St., Kentucky vs. Auburn 

Coach K, Tom Izzo, Coach Cal and Bruce Pearl and two games to round out the Final Four

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone

MARK ECKEL

> Best Bet
Duke (-2) over Michigan State
> The Other Game
Auburn (+4.5) over Kentucky
> Best Over/Under Bet
Kentucky-Auburn (Under 141.5)
> The Other Over/Under
Duke-Michigan State (Over 151)
> The Skinny
Duke
has escaped with pulse-pounding wins in its last two games and hasn’t covered the spread yet in the tournament. Finally they have a line that isn’t an overlay, which means they should cover (although you might want to buy that half point just in case) with a straight-up win. The Blue Devils are also 10-2 against the spread vs. Big Ten teams and 4-1 in their last five against the Spartans . . . Auburn, not exactly known as a basketball school, has taken down Kansas and North Carolina rather impressively in its last two wins. Kentucky will make it a hat trick of schools that are known for basketball for the Tigers. Do they chant “War Eagle” at the basketball games too? . . . And the Under has come out 12 times over the last 15 times these two SEC schools have met. So go with it.

MIKE KERN

> Best Bet
Duke (-2) over Michigan State
> The Other Game
Auburn (+4.5) over Kentucky
> Best Over/Under Bet
Auburn-Kentucky (over 141.5)
> The Other Over/Under
Duke-Michigan State (under 151)
> The Skinny
Kentucky
won at Auburn on Jan. 19, 82-80. The Wildcats won the rematch at Rupp Arena on Feb. 23, 80-53. Auburn hasn’t lost since then. The Tigers’ 11-game winning streak is the nation’s longest. John Calipari is 6-5 in this round. Bruce Pearl went to the Final Eight with Tennessee in 2010 . . . Tom Izzo is 1-6 against Coach K, 1-1 in the NCAA tourney. They haven’t met since 2011. Krzyzewski is 12-3 in this round. But one of those losses was last year, to Kansas. He’s been to once Final Four since 2010. Of Duke’s last seven wins, four were by one or two points. That of course includes the last two. Izzo is 7-3 in this round. The last time his team made it this far was 2015. Sparty has won 13 of its last 14. The loss was by one, at Indiana.

GREG FRANK

> Best Bet
Michigan State (+2) over Duke
> The Other Game
Kentucky (-4.5) over Auburn
> Best Over/Under Bet
Auburn/Kentucky (Over 141.5)
> The Other Over/Under Bet
Duke/Michigan State (Under 151)
> The Skinny
The only reason Duke is favored over Michigan State is because of the four letters across the chest on its jerseys. The Blue Devils have looked awfully susceptible to an upset the last two rounds and have been very fortunate to survive both games. They continue to not cover numbers and eventually that catches up to teams. Michigan State, on the other hand, has turned its play up a notch at the perfect time . . . I can only lean with Kentucky in taking a side in the first game primarily because picking sides in both Kentucky and Auburn games in the tournament has been challenging. Kentucky covered by a hook against Wofford after looking like it may lose outright, and covered by one possession against Houston in the Sweet 16. Auburn probably should have lost its first game of the tournament against New Mexico State but followed it up with two impressive victories over blue blood programs in Kansas and North Carolina. I’ll lean to the Wildcats based off a seemingly healthy PJ Washington and no Chuma Okeke for the Tigers. Despite Okeke’s absence, you have to think Auburn is going to want to try to get up and down the floor again so going over a much lower total than it had against North Carolina makes sense . . . Three straight overs for Duke would be rather abnormal given the Blue Devils are still 24-11-2 to the Under and Michigan State should want to slow the game down and grind one out.

BEN GEIER

> Best Bet
Auburn (+4.5) over Kentucky
> The Other Game
Michigan State (+2) over Duke
> Best Over/Under Bet
Auburn-Kentucky (Over 141.5)
> The Other Over/Under
Duke-Michigan State (Under 151)
> The Skinny
Cam Reddish being a game-time decision makes it difficult to pinpoint the final score. However, Duke hasn’t managed to score over 80 points since the opening round. Auburn is legit and are currently my favorite to win the tournament.

ROBERT MIMS

> Best Bet
Duke (-2) over Michigan State
> Best Over/Under Bet
Auburn-Kentucky (Over 141.5)
> The Skinny
Duke
has Zion Williamson,the one player left in the tournament that can carry his team to victory by himself. Add RJ Barrett and Tre Jones and you have a three-headed monster. If Cam Reddish plays it will be a blowout . . . The total points of the two meetings between Auburn and Kentucky were 162 and 133. Auburn is playing lights out now. Point total should land about 148.

HOWARD GENSLER

> Best Bet
Kentucky (-4.5) over Auburn
> The Other Game
Michigan St. (+2) over Duke
> Best Over/Under Bet
Auburn-Kentucky (Over 141.5)
> The Other Over/Under
Duke-Michigan St. (Under 151)
> The Skinny
I was prepared to send Auburn to the Final Four but the loss of Chuma Okeke may be too difficult to overcome against a team as big and athletic as Kentucky. Sure Auburn is going to be focused and doing everything it can to compensate for the loss — and maybe they can do it for one game — but it’s hard to replace a rim-protecting inside-outside threat like Okeke. . . . With Duke’s Cam Reddish only a game-time decision, gotta go with Michigan State They have a little more depth and experience. . . . Auburn-Kentucky won’t be quite the track meet Auburn-UNC was, but that game put up 177 points. I can tolerate 35 fewer. . . . If the game’s at Duke’s pace the over could be in danger, but I think the Spartans will control tempo. If the game is 67-68 possessions hard for me to see a final in the mid-70s, but it could be 65-60 with 1:30 and a lot of free throws could drive up the score.

BOB VETRONE JR.

> Best Bet
Michigan State (+2) over Duke
> The Other Game
Auburn (+4.5) over Kentucky
> Best Over/Under Bet
Kentucky-Auburn (Over 141.5)
> The Other Over/Under
Duke-Michigan State (Over 151)
> The Skinny
Duke has escaped at the buzzer twice in a row against lesser teams than the Spartans, and after having had a chance to nail each game shut. They were ahead by seven with under 3:30 to go in both the UCF and Virginia Tech games. Yeah, Zion Williamson is a man among boys and RJ Barrett can score in bunches, but it ends here. By the way, Zion did not play an entire game all season, but he is coming off back-to-back 40-minute efforts plus a 39 in the ACC Final. Not saying he looked tired, but something to keep your eye on . . . We’ll go Tigers just because we will take Charles Barkley over John Calipari seven times a week and twice on Sunday . . . Auburn was held to a season-low 53 points by the Wildcats on Feb. 23, but have gone 84, 78, 89 and 97 the last four games dating to the SEC Final. Points galore in this one!.

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