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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 5, 2019 at 12:00 AM

 

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT REPORT –

HERE’S THE FINAL FOUR PREVIEWS

 

Here’s the lowdown when it comes to some Final Four history:

Since 2000, the ACC has copped a grand total of seven national championships in men’s basketball (Duke in 2001, 2010 and 2015, North Carolina in 2005, ’09 and 2017 and Maryland in 2002);

The Southeastern Conference has gobbled up three national championships (Florida in 2006 and ’07, Kentucky in 2012);

The Big 12 has nabbed one national crown (Kansas in 2008);

And the Big 10 owns one national title since 2000 (that was Michigan State in ’00).

Heck, Michigan State’s a regular in Final Fours but just the one crown the past two decades while Virginia has not gotten this far since 1984 and – really – both Auburn and Texas Tech each are making their debut trip to the Final Four.

No wonder the Saturday matchups in Minnesota have such a different feel from recent years.

In a moment we’ll getcha our quick-hitter Final Four previews but first this key reminder as we wind down another College Basketball season:

 

Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers bring you all the Side & Totals winners in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four this Saturday plus there’s College Basketball tourney action this evening when USF plays at DePaul in the winner-take-all Game #3 of the CBI Tournament – note that we cashed with Texas winning 81-66 versus 1.5-point underdog Lipscomb in last night’s NIT Championship Game. Catch NBA and MLB winners too … and get it all right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

 

THE FINAL FOUR

Saturday, April 6

US Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MN

 

AUBURN (30-9) vs. VIRGINIA (33-3) – 6:09 p.m. ET, CBS

So, what’s really the better story as we approach tipoff in this Final Four fling?

Is it the fact Virginia is here after last March becoming the first-ever numero uno seed to lose to a #16 seed (see UMBC) … or is it the fact Auburn’s beaten a who’s who of b-ball juggernauts in the last three rounds of NCAA Tournament play (see wins against Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky)?

Okay, so call it a “wash” in that regard but consider the 5.5-point favored Virginia Cavaliers actually have grown somewhat comfortable in close-and-late situations with last week’s OT-forging jumper by 6-foot-9 F Mamadi Diakite the single-biggest moment in this tourney but now we’ll if Diakite and Company can curtail Auburn’s look-to-run offense that remains short-handed by one star in F Chuma Okeke (knee).

It says here that War Eagle – averaging 85.3 points per game in this tourney – must win the battle of the boards and get at least 25 fast-break points with star guards Jared Harper and Bryce Brown needed to be more than simply “volume shooters” while Virginia – holding fellow NCAA Tourney foes to 57.8 ppg this spring – need to play at a slower pace than what we saw in last weekend’s OT win against Purdue. Will UVa guard Kyle Guy heat up before we get to halftime here?   

 

Here’s how Auburn and Virginia made it thru this year’s NCAA Tournament. Note the “W” or “L” below pertains to a win or loss against the spread:

AUBURN (30-9) – The Tigers are 21-16-1 ATS (against the spread) this season for a .568 winning rate.

DATE                      WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER                     SCORE

3-21                        Auburn                   - 6.5                New Mex St.         L 78-77

3-23                        Auburn                   - 2.5                Kansas                   W 89-75

3-29                        Auburn                   + 5.5               North Carolina        W 97-80

3-31                        Auburn                   + 4.5               Kentucky (ot)        W 77-71

 

VIRGINIA (33-3) – The Cavaliers are a 25-11-0 against the odds this year for a .694 winning percentage.

DATE                      WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER                     SCORE

3-22                        Virginia                  - 22.5              Gardner Webb        L 71-56

3-24                        Virginia                  - 10.5              Oklahoma             W 63-51

3-28                        Virginia                  - 8.5                Oregon                   L 53-49

3-30                        Virginia                  - 4.5                Purdue (ot)            W 80-75

 

TEXAS TECH (30-6) vs. MICHIGAN STATE (32-6) – approximately 8:49 p.m. ET, CBS

Make no mistake about it: The Las Vegas folks “believe” in this T-Tech Red Raiders crew even if they had ‘em as significant dogs in that Elite 8 wire-job win against Gonzaga. The Big 12 team’s just a 2.5-point pup for this Final Four nightcap – and some folks we know believe it’s the “wrong favorite” here considering Tech has held all four of its tourney foes to below 70 points a game.

Of course, having veteran shot-blocker Tariq Owens patrolling the baseline helps matters immensely but newly-named Associated Press Coach of the Year Chris Beard has plenty of other defensive weapons at his disposal here and we’re looking for Tech to double-team Spartans’ lead guard Cassius Winston every opportunity it gets once the dude gets past half-court – so the $64,000 question is will Winston spot up open teammates for perimeter “J’s” here and will the likes of Kenny Goins (see game-winning triple to help dunk Duke) and Matt McQuaid be on the money?

If you’re looking for Tech star G Jarrett Culver to fill up the stat sheet, you can book it that he will but can we remind y’all that Culver is just 20-of-55 from the floor in his team’s last three tournament games.

 

Here’s how Texas Tech and Michigan State made it thru this year’s NCAA Tournament. Note the “W” or “L” below pertains to a win or loss against the spread:

TEXAS TECH (30-6) – The Red Raiders are 19-16-1 versus the vig this season for a .543 winning rate.

DATE                      WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER                     SCORE

3-22                        Texas Tech            - 13.5              No. Kentucky         W 72-57

3-24                        Texas Tech            - 4                   Buffalo                   W 78-58

3-28                        Texas Tech            + 2                   Michigan               W 63-44

3-30                        Texas Tech            + 5.5               Gonzaga                W 75-69

 

MICHIGAN STATE (32-6) – Sparty is 27-11 ATS this year for a .711 winning percentage.

DATE                      WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER                     SCORE

3-21                        Michigan St.          - 17.5              Bradley                  L 76-65

3-23                        Michigan St.          - 10.5              Minnesota             W 70-50

3-29                        Michigan St.          - 6                   LSU                         W 80-63

3-31                        Michigan St.          + 2.5               Duke                       W 68-67

 

 

NOTE: We’ve got NCAA Basketball Final Four coverage all this weekend right here at Jim Sez – so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the Side & Totals winners at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com

 

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