NCAA Final Four Saturday: Guest Selections for Virginia vs. Auburn and Texas Tech vs. Michigan St.
(Former Temple player)
> Virginia-Auburn (Under 131)
The line on this one scares me a bit (Virginia -5.5) because I think the Cavs will win, but they can be a bit of an up-and-down team, and we know they have a tendency to struggle on offense at times. I do like the under however. Defense travels and Virginia has the best in the country. Auburn will be in a daze for the first 10 minutes on that stage.
> Michigan State (-2.5) over Texas Tech
I’ve used Michigan State two other times in this tournament ATS and won, so why not a third time? I’m a big fan of preparation and I just think Tom Izzo will have the team ready, especially with a week to watch film. The big key will be if MSU is connecting on their jumpshots.
(Penn Hall of Fame Player)
Something for everyone in this Final Four -- Texas Tech is the closest thing to a Cinderella, but don’t sleep on them as they ended one of the most impressive streaks in college basketball history, ending Kansas’ Big 12 reign . . . Auburn is billowed by No. 1 fan Charles Barkley and a lightning quick backcourt . . . Virginia is the ultimate redemption story from one of the best programs in the country with a class coach seeking his first title . . . And Michigan State wears the blue collar status but we all know they are a true blue blood program with Wizard of Izzo at the helm . . .
> Texas Tech-Michigan State (Under 132.5)
This will be a knockdown, drag-out, slobberknocker kind of match-up. Minneapolis has been home to so many NFC wars and is an appropriate home for this game. Tech is tough and proved that they will be relentless. Chris Beard has done a great job but MSU s experience and depth are too much. Lay the points if you want.
> Auburn (+6) over Virginia
All about tempo. Easier said than done of course. I think Auburn’s athleticism will cause problems particularly in the backcourt. Virginia has experience and destiny on its side. Auburn covers, the Cavs advance.
(Co-owner High Tides Restaurant)
> Texas Tech (+2.5) over Michigan State
This is The Pick of the Tourney 2.0, right after the Purdue (-3) tap-in against Villanova. (Still spending those winnings!)
> Both Games Total (Under 265)
If you can find it – and it is not easy – take the Under on the combined point total of all four teams on Saturday. Lots of defense to be had. Bad day for CBS, who would really rather have lots of offense.
(Co-owner Chick's Deli)
> Texas Tech (+2.5) over Michigan
After picking against them the entire tournament, I’m finally on the Texas Tech bandwagon. (With that being said, expect Michigan State to cover and probably rather easily. It’s been a loooong tournament for some of us.)
(Host of South Jersey Sports Talk on RVNTV.com)
> Virginia (-6) over Auburn
Virginia beat me in the Elite Eight, covering the 4.5 points against Purdue by winning by five in OT, so this time I am giving the points. Virginia was an eight-point favorite over Oregon and won by four in the Sweet Sixteen, so not covering has been the trend for Cavs, which edged the spread by a half point in a 12-point win over Oklahoma. The Cavaliers also overcame a 14-point first half deficit to Gardner-Webb to win by 15, but the Cavs didn’t cover the 23.5 spread. Still, Tony Bennett’s team has exorcised last year’s first-round loss as a No. 1 seed to UMBC, so this tourney is house money with the Cavs in their first Final Four in over 30 years – post-Ralph Sampson in 1984. But, betting on they aren’t just happy to be in Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, lost on Auburn winning outright by six over Kentucky, which was laying 2.5. The Tigers were also getting 5.5 points against North Carolina and rolled by 17. Auburn shot over the top against Heels, draining 12-of-18 from the arc in second half and nailing 17 threes overall. Bruce Pearl’s Bunch connected on 43% from behind the arc against Kansas in second round win, so they have been scorching. But the Tigers are without Chuma Okeke, the talented sophomore who had 20 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes against the Heels before suffering a torn ACL. Although its the program’s first Final Four, they won’t be around on Monday -- and so the Tigers might as well do me a favor and not cover.
> Michigan State (-2.5) Texas Tech
Sparty was clutch in OT winning by 2 and getting 2 against Duke so banking on Michigan State covering the slight number against the Red Raiders. In the Elite Eight, Michigan State was laying 6.5 against LSU and won by 17 points and we see this playing out the same way.
On the other side, Texas Tech crushed the spread against top-seeded Gonzaga, winning by six while getting 4.5 (my loss). So you would think I’d be hesitant to roll against Tech again, but no … especially since this should be another low-scoring game -- like holding Michigan to 44 points and killing the Under 119 with a total of 107. Also, Texas Tech crushed the -3 line with a 20-point win over Buffalo in the second round. However, the Red Raiders barely covering the 14.5-point spread against Northern Kentucky in a 15-point win in the first round and Sparty isn’t the Norse. Sure, like everyone else, I like the way Red Raiders Coach Chris Beard has his team playing D, but Tom Izzo has his team playing a better all-around game.