Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 12:00 AM
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT’S
FINAL FOUR IS SET –
AUBURN VS. VIRGINIA,
TEXAS TECH VS. MICHIGAN STATE
MAKE UP A REAL LUNCH-PAIL
QUARTET IN MINNESOTA
Let’s take this whole NCAA Tournament Final 4 thing from a completely different angle:
Consider the monster name programs that were knocked out of this year’s tourney the past four days … they include the likes of Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Kentucky and Duke.
Wowie – no wonder this rather strange blend of teams that will be making up this week’s Final Four in Minneapolis can’t be found on anyone’s original bracket.
Hey, it’s not as if Texas Tech, Virginia, Auburn and Michigan State didn’t deserve this grand prize – the Final Four teams are a collective 12-4 ATS (against the spread) this year and so you’d be a cool plus $760 if you happened to have a “buck” on each one of these teams in this man’s tourney -- but there are not a slew of “household names” in this collection of Final Four teams … no Zion Williamson, no RJ Barrett, no Rui Hachimura, no Grant Williams, no PJ Washington.
You’ll have to live without ‘em.
The proverbial bottom line is this past weekend’s Elite 8 games were the best in memory – a pair of overtime games plus Duke’s good karma finally running dry after tight-fit wins in the second and third rounds – and, if it seemed as if every one of the games (Texas Tech over Gonzaga, Virginia over Purdue in OT, Auburn over Kentucky in OT and Michigan State over #1 overall seed Duke) went down to the final shot it’s because basically they all did!
We’ll have plenty of NCAA Tournament coverage all week long here at Jim Sez including key charts and stuff but first this key reminder and some snap-shot comments about the Final Four teams:
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers brings you all the Side & Totals winners in the NCAA Tournament’s Final 4 this Saturday plus there’s all the other action with the other College Basketball Tournies (the NIT, CBI and CIT), the NBA, MLB and the AAF too … get it all right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
THE FINAL FOUR
The matchups are set … the NCAA Tourney’s Final 4 ain’t what you thought it would be as there’s just one #1 seed remaining (hello, Virginia) but there’s plenty to say about the survivors:
#5M AUBURN (30-9) – The Southeastern Conference has one team in this Final Four but it’s not the one you thought it would be at the start of this “Big Dance (see Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU?) but it is the one that fought the hardest the first four games of their tourney. Bruce Pearl’s crew didn’t have much success from downtown in Sunday’s wild 77-71 overtime win against 4.5-point favorite Kentucky as War Eagle canned just 7-of-23 triple tries but all-guts/all b-ball IQ point guard Jared Harper (26 points / 5 assists) made so many positive plays that it kept the Tigers afloat. Now, we’ll see if the absence of Chuma Okeke (knee / out for year) will be felt come Final Four time or whether this deep Auburn team can use his status as inspiration. Spread Note – Go back to early March and you’ll see Auburn’s covered eight of its last 10 games.
#1S VIRGINIA (33-3) – Gotta agree with CBS/TBS mouthpiece Charles Barkley who, moments after Virginia bested Purdue 89-75 in OT in last Saturday’s Elite 8 bash in Louisville, wondered aloud how Cavaliers’ head coach Tony Bennett seemingly didn’t make any real adjustments in dealing with Boilermakers’ gunner Carsen Edwards (see 42 points /10-of-19 from trey-ville) … if Bennett suffers through any more serious brain cramps here against Auburn then it’ll be lights out for the ACC guys who are prohibitive 5.5-point betting favorites. The Cavs have to be thanking their lucky stars that perimeter shooter Kyle Guy (25 points got hot after halftime and that F Mamadi Diakite had the presence to hit that OT-forcing short jumper. Team of destiny? Perhaps, but the Cavs have suffered through too many dry spells in this tourney and that has to change. Spread Note – Hats off to the Wahoos who have notched spread wins in seven of their last nine non-ACC games.
#3W TEXAS TECH (30-6) – Maybe no top four seed in any of the regions received less “love” than these T-Tech Red Raiders, but no matter. Third-year head coach Chris Beard cut his teeth under a chap named Bob Knight and so team defense is this club’s numero uno priority … and guess they played it pretty well in Saturday’s 75-69 back-and-forth win versus 5.5-point favorite Gonzaga – and take note that the ‘Zags took the game-day money as they went from a 4-point fav to a 5.5-point fav as the Lubbock gang continued to get disrespected. Go ahead and heap praise on Tech for holding Gonzaga some 18 points below its game-day average and three cheers for spindly F Tariq Owens (3 blocks and numerous in-the-paint distractions to Gonzaga shooters) who was an emotional leader for a team that does sport a sure-fire first-round NBA pick in G Jarrett Culver (19 points vs. Gonzaga) who happened to hoist 19 FGs and may take 20-plus FGs here against Michigan State. Spread Note – Texas Tech’s covered 13 of its last 16 games overall the Red Raiders are the only team left in this Final Four that’s a perfect 4-and-oh against the odds this tourney.
#2E MICHIGAN STATE (32-6) – Okay, so Spartans’ head coach Tom Izzo can get super-emotional at the drop of a hat but the veteran sideline boss had reason for those tears of joy following in the wake of Sunday’s epic 68-67 win against 2.5-point fav Duke in Elite 8 action from the nation’s capital. For starters, Izzo’s team had been short-handed for much of the year with an array of injuries in 2018-19 and wouldn’t you know Michigan State really went just six deep here with PG Cassius Winston (20 points / 10 assists) never letting things get out of hand even though the above-mentioned Mr. Williamson threw down some hellacious dunks throughout the course of this clash. Winston pressed his foot on the pedal when necessary and slowed things down when needed and who knew Sparty could win an Elite 8 game b making just two free throws and shooting just 30-of-70 from the floor? Spread Note – Michigan State is 27-11 ATS overall this hoops season.
Okay, so here’s the NCAA Tournament day-by-day look at the Betting Favorites:
DATE FAVS VS SPREAD
March 19 2-0-0
March 20 1-1-0
March 21 7-9-0
March 22 5-11-0
March 23 6-2-0
March 24 5-3-0
March 28 1-3-0
March 29 2-2-0
March 30 1-1-0
March 31 0-2-0
Total 30-34-0 (.469)
NOTE: Plenty more NCAA Tournament Final Four News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez including our update Pointspread Breakdown Chart!