Virginia players celebrate after defeating Auburn  Saturday (Morry Gash)
Virginia players celebrate after defeating Auburn Saturday (Morry Gash)|Associated Press
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NCAA Championship Staff Selections: Virginia vs. Texas Tech

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone

MARK ECKEL

> The Title Game Pick
Virginia (-1.5) over Texas Tech
> The Over/Under Pick
Under (118)
> The Skinny
God must be a basketball fan. After what He did to Virginia last year, He more than repaid the Cavs with two miraculous finishes to beat Purdue and Auburn. Well anyone with even a hint of a Catholic school education knows miracles come in threes. So look for another crazy ending and another Virginia win. Oh, and in case you need it, Texas Tech is just 1-6 against the spread in its last seven games against the ACC . . . This score could very well go over the total, but the way these two teams play you can’t expect it. Take the Under.

MIKE KERN

> The Title Game Bet
Texas Tech (+1.5) over Virginia
> The Skinny
In its last four games Texas Tech has beaten 15th-ranked Buffalo by 20 points, No. 8 Michigan by 19, No. 4 Gonzaga by six and No. 5 Michigan State by 10. Virginia, which has lost only once to teams that didn’t have Zion Williamson, was losing its last two games by two with two seconds to go in regulation. And the game before that they beat 12th-seeded Oregon by four. Of course winning is the only thing that matters. I just think that the Red Raiders -- and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this -- might be the better team right now. Maybe the Cavs will win by one at the end again. Perhaps even on some more free throws. Wouldn’t that be special?

GREG FRANK

> The Title Game Pick
Virginia (-1.5) over Texas Tech
> The Over/Under Pick
Over (118)
> The Skinny
Doesn’t it just feel like destiny for Virginia at this point? After last year’s UMBC loss the Cavaliers hit the lowest of lows, then they start slow against another 16 seed this year and remain the butt of every joke. But after that first half against Gardner Webb, Tony Bennett’s team started to settle in a little bit playing its normal stellar defense in wins against Oklahoma and Oregon in particular. Then when you look at how regulation ended in the regional final and national semifinal wins for Virginia, it’s hard not to think this was meant to be . . . I suppose there could be a destiny argument to be made for Texas Tech too given in its run to the first Final Four in program history the Red Raiders beat the last two runner-ups in the regional weekend and a school that’s been to 10 Final Fours in the National Semifinals. But, I’m going with Virginia in a game that will probably look similar to the Cavaliers’ last win against Auburn with less craziness at the end. Expect another war of attrition in which Virginia slowly opens things up in the final five minutes, and doesn’t let its opponent back in the way Auburn rallied late on Saturday . . . As for the total, I only lean with the over thinking the winner is going to get to at least 65 points tonight. It’s the National Championship, and while we all know both of these teams are elite defensively, they had to be good enough on the other end of the floor too.

BEN GEIER

> The Title Game Pick
Texas Tech (+1.5) over Virginia
> The Over/Under Pick
Under (118)
> The Skinny
Wow! This is an unexpected match-up as I didn’t have either team making it this far. Virginia has redeemed itself from a year ago. They’ve eliminated late deficits against Auburn and Purdue. I’m anti-Virginia, but I can’t deny their composure and restless defense. Texas Tech has quietly slid under the radar and still managed upsets over Michigan State, Gonzaga and Michigan. Overall, two statistically similar teams and this will be one of the lowest-scoring titles matches in NCAA history. However, I’m taking Texas Tech as they’ve had a tougher road and have been beating their opponents by a larger margin.

ROBERT MIMS

> The Title Game Pick
Texas Tech (+1.5) over Virginia
> The Over/Under Pick
Under (118)
> The Skinny
Texas Tech and Virginia are mirror images of each other. Tech is more athletic and Tech has shown the ability to hold teams for scoreless periods of four minutes or more twice during the tournament, against Michigan and Michigan State. Virginia can expect the same. First team to 50 points wins.

HOWARD GENSLER

> The Title Game Pick
Texas Tech (+1.5) over Virginia
> The Over/Under Pick
Over (118)
> The Skinny
I thought Michigan State was going to tough its way to the championship and Texas Tech out-toughed them. Virginia is terrific but very, very, very lucky to be here. Maybe they are this year’s team of destiny after last year’s historic loss, but the Red Raiders have been beasts throughout the entire Tournament.

BOB VETRONE JR.

> The Title Game Pick
Texas Tech (+1.5) over Virginia
> The Over/Under Pick
Under (118)
> The Skinny
Welcome to 2019 and the first triple-elimination NCAA Tournament in history. Virginia has been dead in the water – and the backcourt – on each of the last two Saturdays, yet here is Thomas Jefferson’s favorite college, still alive and kicking. Great story, but we’re not buying the final chapter. The Red Raiders have won two big NCAA games in a row with Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver shooting a combined 5-for-20 on two-pointers. You know what kind of team does that? A Championship Team! . . . The 118 seems absurdly low until you find that three of the last 17 title games have dipped under that number (2014 UConn-Kentucky, 2011 UConn-Butler, 2002 Maryland-Indiana) after the previous 18 straight title games had eclipsed it. These teams might not get to 118 if they played four overtimes.

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