The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight did not go as planned. Not too many people expected Michigan State, Texas Tech, Virginia and Auburn to make the Final Four. They were all underdogs who went through much adversity to make it to Minneapolis. Not one of these teams really stands above the rest and that’s what makes these semi-final games so great.
Here’s why every team remaining has a chance to win the championship.
#2 Michigan State vs #3 Texas Tech
I really have to eat my words on this Spartans team. They were anything but inspiring throughout the year and were missing one of their best shooters in Kyle Ahrens. Then in the first round, they struggled to get by Bradley, only pulling away from them late in the second half. Since then they’ve been a completely different team, destroying Minnesota and LSU, and then pulling off the upset versus Duke.
From the West Region we have Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have looked amazing up until this point. They’ve only given up more than 60 points once so far this tournament, and that doesn’t seem like it’ll change against a slower tempo Michigan State squad.
Two things need to happen in order for the Spartans to win. Cassius Winston has to get going. Winston has shot the ball pretty well up until this point but he hasn’t seen any defense like Texas Tech’s this year.
The other key to success will come in stopping Jarrett Culver. Tech struggles when Culver doesn’t get going. If they can force him into tough shots they’ll put themselves in a great chance to win.
For the Red
Finally, who else will set up for Texas Tech? If Culver has an off game who will they go to? If Matt Mooney can have another big game scoring, the Red Raiders will be tough to contain.
Gonzaga did a great job scoring in the paint with all of their elite big men. However, their guards were destroyed. Actually every team Texas Tech has played in the tournament has had trouble scoring with their guards. I think Chris Beards defense will be enough to pull of the upset.
Prediction: Texas Tech: 68 vs Michigan State: 57
#1 Virginia vs #5 Auburn
The Cavaliers went from the laughing stock of college basketball to the Final Four in one season. Tony Bennett has finally broken through and cemented himself a spot as one of the best coaches in college basketball. Virginia hasn’t made it pretty but they made it.
Then there’s Auburn. Other than a first-round scare against New Mexico State, (a game they still dominated) they’ve looked like one of the best teams in the tournament. To make the Final Four they had to go through Kansas, UNC, and Kentucky. Those three teams have the most wins in college basketball history. Definitely one of the more impressive list of wins.
This game will come down to
Bryce Brown and Jared Harper will need to take their scoring to another level in order to pull off the upset.
There’s only one thing for UVA: Can they score? They did just enough on the offensive side of the ball to match Carsen Edwards and his 42 points for Purdue. The Cavaliers needed a miracle to win in the Elite Eight and will need to play even better to win this time around.
I think the injury to Okeke will be too much for Auburn to handle. I also believe that De’Andre Hunter will be the difference maker, as there’s nobody on the Auburn Roster who can matchup with him and that will be the biggest problem for the Tigers.
Prediction: Virginia: 66 vs Auburn: 63
Defense wins championships and I think we’ll see number one, versus number two in the championship.