Final Four Picks ATS

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Michigan State Spartans -3

The Texas Tech Red Raiders blew up most brackets with their upset of Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.  They also blew up the Big 12.  The preseason #7 ranked team in the Big 12 has spent an entire season shattering expectations.  Texas Tech was able to overcome different styles of teams on their run to the Final Four trouncing an offensive minded Buffalo team, grinding a win versus defensive minded Michigan and showing its full repertoire taking down the #1 team in offensive efficiency in the country the Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Texas Tech’s bread and butter is and will be on the defensive end.  Texas Tech garners takeaways on 23.1 percent of opponent possessions, 11th in the nation. Tech will look to keep this low scoring and dirty.

Michigan State has seemed to find itself on the offensive end by utilizing the fast break. The Spartans were able to overcome two teams that athletically were superior by not allowing them to set their defenses. If Cassius Winston can control the ball Michigan State should be to impose its will on the break with Xavier Tillman attacking the rim.  There will be a lot of pressure on Winston to run the offense efficiently out of half court sets.  We know Michigan will be looking to run but the grind it out style of Texas Tech will look to take that away.  Tech also brings the 28th nationally ranked offensively efficient team which means they will not turn the ball over enough to allow the new “running” Spartans to take off.

This game will be a matchup between a coach on the rise and a coach that is cementing his legacy.  Chris Beard has done a remarkable job bringing the Red Raiders to this point.  Jarrett Culver will have to find his shot earl, if he doesn’t it will be up to Matt Mooney to start the offense from the outside. This game will be a hard hitting affair, usually I would lean to the veteran coach in this situation but I am going with Chris Beard.  Texas Tech has bought into what Beard is selling.  They will have no fear of Michigan State. The Red Raiders are going to shut down Winston and the fast break and pull out the victory. I may lean ML on this game but if you can take the points why not be safe.

Pick: Texas Tech +3

Auburn Tigers vs. Virginia Cavaliers -5.5

The Auburn Tigers came into the tournament hot but no one saw this coming from Bruce Pearl’s squad.  Defeating three of the blue blood of college basketball on their way to the final four.  The injury to Chumu Okeke could have derailed any team going into their elite eight matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats but they rallied behind his injury.  This Auburn team reminds me of the UConn title team of 2014.  Playing the part of Shabazz Napier is senior Jerad Harper while the part of Ryan Boatright being played by Bryce Brown. The Tigers are a veteran led team that goes ten deep to make sure they can keep up their frantic pace. If Auburn can come out and play their pace and jump out to an early lead it will be a problem for the defensive minded Virginia Cavaliers.

Virginia seems like a team of destiny after the debacle of last season. Their last second game tying shot from Mamdi Diakite over Purdue was something that we only see in movies.  The Cavaliers are battle tested through the season but have a tendancy to have some slow starts. If Virginia doesn’t come out and set the pace they will be overcome by the constant attack of Auburn.  Unlike the other final four matchup the Cavaliers will have to contend with multiple scorers in order to be successful, this game will be a battle of different styles that should be a chess matchup of two great coaches. 

Pick: Auburn +5.5 (Virginia wins by 4)

Each Conferences Sleeper Team

Big Ten- Maryland Terrapins

I may be more of a believer in Maryland then most, but this team seems to have something.  Bruno Fernando is an elite big that could develop into an NBA superstar if put in the right situation. Fernando is an elite player that will be drawing double teams in big games. 

Guards Anthony Cowan, Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala will have open opportunities to get wide open shots from deep.  Ayala in particular will be huge shooting 47% from three on the season.  Wiggins and Cowan bring an 80% free throw shooting rate which can be a huge asset down the stretch in a close game.  Look at the UConn team that featured Shabazz Napier a few years ago, when they had a lead in the fourth quarter the game was essentially over.

The battle tested Terrapins currently hold an RPI of 27 and SOS of 27.  Two big matchups with Michigan will show the world what the potential of this team really is.

Big 12- Baylor Bears

If you have bet against the Baylor Bears this year you have probably found yourself cursing at the TV as they pull of another underdog upset. A team left for dead after their embarrassing opening night loss to Texas Southern has emerged as a potential contender in the Big 12.  It’s all pretty much pointless as we know Kansas is going to win the conference, but the Bears can be a problem for teams come March.

The Bears have quality wins over Iowa State, Oklahoma, TCU and Alabama have put Baylor back on the map after their brutal start.  Senior leadership of Makai Mason and King McClure will be huge in during March Madness.  Baylor shoots at a staggering 45% from the field while also being road warriors. Baylor is 4-1 straight up over its last five road games. This team is experienced and efficient.  A long run could be in store for the Bears.

ACC – Syracuse Orange

The perennial bubble team Syracuse should find themselves comfortably in the dance come tournament time, despite their poor showing at home against Florida State last night. The Orange are never a team to bet against, just ask the Duke Blue Devils.  This team has a SOS of 25 with quality non-conference wins over Ohio State and an emerging Georgetown team.

Frank Howard is the difference maker for Syracuse.  Howard is currently shooting above 40% on the season while be the floor general for a team that has to keep the ball moving for a chance to score.  3-point shooting with obviously be a factor as the Orange are about as bad as they come in that attribute shooting just 32% on the season.

Despite their shooting struggle Syracuse brings an elite defense and great experience on the floor.  They will be a team that no one wants to face in March.

SEC- Auburn Tigers

Most have forgotten that the Auburn Tigers were a top ten team at the start of 2019. Losses to NC State, Duke, Kentucky, at South Carolina and at Mississippi State took them out of the rankings but outside of the loss at South Carolina none of those horrible defeats.  Currently projected as a potential seven seed would put them in a great place come tournament time.

Bryce Brown and Jared Harper are as good as it gets backcourt tandom.  They should be getting back Center Austin Wiley for the stretch run as well.  Wiley a player that can anchor the defense averaging nearly two blocks per game in just sixteen minutes played per game. 

This team is too reliant on the 3-point shooting, if they are dropping they could be impossible to beat.  Their depth and running style will be a matchup that can where down opponents that have to play multiple games over a short time period.

Pac 12- Washington Huskies

There was really no other option.  They are ok in a PAC12 that is brutal.  They could win a game or lose in the first round.  Only other option was maybe UCLA.