Virginia’s Kyle Guy (5) laughs as he gather with Ty Jerome (11), Jay Huff (30) and De’Andre Hunter (12) during a practice session at the Final Four, Friday, April 5, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Virginia’s Kyle Guy (5) laughs as he gather with Ty Jerome (11), Jay Huff (30) and De’Andre Hunter (12) during a practice session at the Final Four, Friday, April 5, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)|Associated Press
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NCAA Final Four Saturday: Staff Selections for Virginia vs. Auburn and Texas Tech vs. Michigan St.

The Final Four games tip at 6:09 pm EDT.

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone

MARK ECKEL

> Best Bet
Michigan State (-2.5) over Texas Tech
> The Other Game
Virginia (-6) over Auburn
> Best Over/Under Bet
Michigan State-Texas Tech (Under 132.5)
> The Other Over/Under
Virginia-Auburn (Under 131)
> The Skinny
I picked Michigan State to win it all a year ago, and watched an early exit. Per usual I was ahead of my time. I think the Spartans will keep Texas Tech off the boards just enough to win by enough . . . If Virginia wins it all, I win my pool so “Let’s Go, Cavs!” Auburn has played out of its mind in wins over Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. Can the Tigers keep shooting like that, especially from three-point range? If they can, God bless them. But I think they come back to Earth Saturday night . . . Three of Texas Tech’s four games in the tournament have gone under and the same is true for the Spartans, so why not stick with the it? . . . In Auburn’s last six games against ACC teams five have gone under. And in six of Virginia’s last seven games against the SEC the game has gone under. So again, don’t buck the trend.

MIKE KERN

> Best Bet
Virginia (-6) over Auburn
> The Other Game
Texas Tech (+2.5) over Michigan State
> Best Over/Under
Virginia-Auburn (Over 131)
> The Other Over/Under
Texas Tech-Michigan State (Under 132.5)
> The Skinny
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is 2-5 in national semifinals. The wins came in 2000 and 2009. Texas Tech allows 9.8 assists per game, 11.5 in the tournament. The Spartans had 40 assists last weekend in their wins over LSU and Duke. The Red Raiders average winning margin of 15 ppg is the highest in the tourney. Both teams rank in the top three in field-goal percentage defense. Tech has won as many NCAA games the last two years (seven) as it had in its history before that . . . Auburn is averaging 11 made three-pointers a game, which ranks third in the nation. Virginia is holding opponents to 28.7% from the arc, which ranks fourth. The Cavaliers are 0-2 in this round. Neither of the teams they lost to (North Carolina in 1981, Houston three years later, by two points in overtime) went on to win the title. Auburn’s four wins this year are one more than it had won in this century’s previous 18 tourneys combined.

GREG FRANK

> Best Bet
Michigan State (-2.5) over Texas Tech
> The Other Game
Virginia (-6) over Auburn
> Best Over/Under Bets
Virginia-Auburn (First Half Under 61)
Michigan State-Texas Tech (First Half Under 61.5)
> The Skinny
To be the best, you have to beat the best. Michigan State just beat one of the best teams in the country in its regional final. Tom Izzo finally got another win over Coach K. The Spartans have battled through several injuries this season to get to this point and now have a National Championship in clear sight. Texas Tech went through an easier region and less adversity in the regular season. Take the battle-tested Spartans in the second game . . . Virginia is going to wear Auburn down with its usual hard-nosed defensive intensity. The Tigers are a great story in college basketball this year, but the road ends in the National Semifinals for Bruce Pearl’s squad . . . I’m going with both First Half Unders as well for a couple reasons. It’s the first Final Four in program history for both Auburn and Texas Tech so the Tigers and Red Raiders could come out of the gate nervous and are already playing very good defensive teams. Basketball in a football dome will result in some abnormal conditions for all four teams which should result in less scoring early on. And I like unders in college championships because it’s easy to forget these are kids ages 18-23. It’s only natural for the moment to get to them a little, especially early, and for some sloppy play to creep in.

ROBERT MIMS

> Best Bet
Michigan State (-2.5) over Texas Tech
> The Other Game
Virginia (-6) over Auburn
> Best Over/Under Bet
Virginia-Auburn (Over 131)
> The Other Over/Under Bet
Michigan State-Texas Tech (Under 132.5)
> The Skinny
The total in Virginia game will go over because Auburn will speed the tempo up . . . In the second game, the defenses will take over. The first team to reach 60 won’t do so until there are less than three minutes remaining; the other team never gets there.

BEN GEIER

> Best Bet
Michigan State (-2.5) over Texas Tech
> The Other Game
Auburn (+6) over Virginia
> Best Over/Best Under
Auburn-Virginia (Over 131)
> The Other Over/Under
Michigan State-Texas Tech (Over 132.5)
> The Skinny
Auburn losing Chuma Okeke for the rest of the tournament is a huge blow on both ends of the floor.  However, they still have Bryce Brown and Jared Harper leading the way.  Virginia is a team that I haven’t trusted, but I respected the way they fought back against Purdue . . . If the Texas Tech defense doesn’t stop the Michigan State offense their chances of winning will be slim.  Overall, this Final Four is interesting with regards to the seeds left.

HOWARD GENSLER

> Best Bet
Texas Tech (+2.5) over Michigan State
> The Other Game
Auburn (+6) over Virginia
> Best Over/Under Bet
Virginia-Auburn (Over 131)
> The Other Over/Under
Texas Tech-Michigan State (Under 132.5)
> The Skinny
Since I think both games will be very close, I’m going with the Underdogs to get points and give me a teeny bit bigger margin for error . . . I hate both Over/Unders because in close games you never know when the coach behind is going to start fouling. The game could be 58-52 with a 1:30 left (lining up well for an Under) and end up 72-68 (Over). Plus, either game could go to overtime which will throw another monkey wrench into the lines and my acid reflux . . . As for the individual games, I think Texas Tech and Michigan State will beat each other up, their coaches will scream themselves senseless, fouls may play a part but I think the refs will let them play, and who’s ever left standing will win. . . . Virginia may be too big for depleted Auburn. Auburn may be too quick for Virginia. Pace will be key. And boxing out. Both teams see themselves as teams of destiny. But in this game only Bruce Pearl will scream himself senseless and be a rumpled mess. At the end, Tony Bennett will still look like he’s ready to head out for a nice dinner and a show.

BOB VETRONE JR.

> Best Bet
Texas Tech (+2.5) over Michigan State
> The Other Game
Virginia (-6) over Auburn
> Best Over/Under Bet
Virginia-Auburn (Over 131)
> The Other Over/Under
Texas Tech-Michigan State (Under 132.5)
> The Skinny
If you’re like me, you never saw Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver play a game before this NCAA Tournament, and now you can’t keep your eyes off him. It says here you’ll have two more chances to watch him – Saturday and Monday . . . We had trouble buying into Virginia all season, but have finally come around. The best team in the best conference gets to the NCAA Championship game, and does so rather easily . . . Auburn’s last five games have been over, and it has not been just its offense. The have allowed 64, 77, 75, 80 and 71 in those contests . . . Texas Tech has been winning with defense. Same thing here.

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