The Final Four contestants may be deemed a surprise when they tip-off. However, All four of these teams have been elite throughout the season. The team that would shock the country the most obviously has to be the Auburn Tigers. Yet, they entered the NCAA Tournament with an SEC Championship in tow. Therefore, defeating fellow conference member Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite 8 round should have caught the country off guard.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Cavaliers may have been the last of the No. 1 seeds to make a run to the Final Four. Between the Duke Blue Devils, Gonzaga Bulldogs and North Carolina Tar Heels, the Cavaliers had the most to prove of the No. 1 seeds. They were almost knocked out early, and they should have been knocked out late. Sometimes you can’t stop the magic ride to a national title. Therefore, if the Cavaliers win two more games, we will forever remember Purdue’s foul with 5.9 seconds left.
5 Auburn Tigers (30-9) vs. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (33-3)
When: Saturday, April 6 – 6:09 p.m. ET
Where: Minneapolis, MN – US Bank Stadium
Betting Line: Virginia -6 o/u 131
Both teams needed overtime to earn a spot into the Final Four. However, the Tigers have entered Saturday’s matchup with the nicest collection of bodies during March Madness. First, they took down the highly thought of New Mexico State Aggies. Many people picked the No. 12 seed to spoil the SEC Championship from the prior week. However, the Tigers held on for dear life after a couple of bonehead fouls of their own.
Then the Tigers started destroying your favorite teams from around the country. They pounced on the Kansas Jayhawks in round 2. Obliterated the Tar Heels in the Sweet 16 and stormed the Wildcats’ castle in the Elite 8. Now, the Tigers get to take on the best regular season program in college basketball.
The Cavaliers have won 30 or more games in 4 of the last 6 seasons. One year they only one 29 games because the Syracuse Orange shocked the Cavaliers in the Elite 8. In 2017, they only won 23 games. Yeah, that’s how dominant the Cavaliers have been in the ACC. However, this is their first trip to the Final Four since 1984. As a result, they have no imaginative power over the Tigers.
Furthermore, if the Cavaliers couldn’t contain the back court duo of Jairus Lyles and K.J. Maura from the UMBC Retrievers, what are they planning to do against Jared Harper and Bryce Brown on Saturday? The similarities are uncanny. More importantly, the Cavaliers have had trouble with a number of quick skillful guards.
That’s why the guard matchup is going to be key throughout the game. Can Ty Jerome handle the pressure for the Auburn Tigers’ defense? Will Kyle Guy continue his hot shooting streak after breaking out in the second half of the Elite 8? Still, the key will be how well Kihei Clark stays in front of Harper during critical times. If he is unable to do so, DeAndre Hunter will likely slide down to the small forward spot. However, going big hasn’t seemed to work for the recent opponents.
Pick: That’s why it should go to Auburn in a close one, especially if the pace picks up. Otherwise, the Tigers will have to win in the half court without their most versatile player. They survived the loss of Chuma Okeke last week. They should have the blueprint to do it again with a strong bench performance.
Auburn 78 – Virginia 74