The 2019 NCAA basketball tournament is coming down the final stretch and in three days we will have a national champion. One top seed remains, with Virginia close to fully avenging their first-round upset a year ago. They face fifth-seeded Auburn, while second-seeded Michigan State faces third-seeded Texas Tech.
We’ve listed out the spread for the Final Four matchups for Saturday, and then spoken with our network of team brand managers to figure out why each team might cover the spread. Everybody has their own philosophy, but getting insight from folks who are particularly dialed in can help get you a necessary edge to turn this March into a profitable one.
2) Michigan State vs. 3) Texas Tech, 8:49 p.m., Saturday, CBS
Spread: Michigan State -3
Betting action: Heading into the weekend, there is a 50/50 split of money on this game at DraftKings Sportsbook. 57 percent of tickets booked for the game are on Michigan State.
Why Michigan State will cover: Yes, Texas Tech is an elite defensive team. But that’s nothing Michigan State hasn’t faced before. MSU is 6-0 against the KenPom top-10 defensive teams this season. The Spartans have an offense that can score inside and out, but what makes them different from the previous teams TTU has played is they can win a game on both sides of the ball. Unlike Gonzaga, MSU has a defense that can keep pace with almost any other in the country, and unlike Michigan, their offense is able to score points. At three points, trust the experienced team with a dominant point guard and a head coach who loves a rough-and-tumble style game. Texas Tech won’t beat MSU at their own game. Not on this stage. — Kyle Thele, The Only Colors
Why Texas Tech will cover: Texas Tech will cover because of Chris Beard’s ability to out-scheme Tom Izzo. When you get to the Final Four, talent matters less than coaching does. Jarrett Culver will be an influential part in winning this game for Beard but defensively, Matt Mooney will be the main focus as he will have to stop Cassius Winston, something that no other team has been able to do this tournament. I think Mooney, Davide Moretti, Brandone Francis, and even Jarret Culver will get some reps on Winston and the different matchups might be enough to throw this Michigan State team off balance. — Jacob Harris, Viva the Matadors
1) Virginia vs. 5) Auburn, 6:09 p.m., Saturday, CBS
Spread: Virginia -5.5
Betting action: Heading into the weekend, 79 percent of money wagered on this game at DraftKings Sportsbook has been on Auburn, with 78 percent of tickets booked for the game also on Auburn.
Why Virginia will cover: This is the first real clash of styles for the Cavaliers this postseason. Oklahoma, Oregon, and even Purdue, to an extent, were happy playing at a lower possession pace. Now, the Hoos get the red-hot Auburn Tigers that like to force turnovers and run the court. Virginia rarely gets sped up — even teams like Duke and North Carolina played games in the 60 possession range — and they’re consistent in the half court. Everyone wants to talk about how Virginia’s defense will slow down Auburn, but the Cavalier offense (No. 2 in KenPom) could be a handful for the Tigers. Kyle Guy looked back to his old self in Virginia’s win over Purdue, and Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter are big-time threats. — Caroline Darney, Streaking the Lawn
Why Auburn will cover: Auburn has shown they can adapt to whatever the opponent throws at them. Kansas tried a new defensive scheme, Auburn anticipated it, and prepped for it. UNC tried to outrun us and guard the perimeter, and we kept up the pace and scored inside before going lights out from downtown. UK refused to let us shoot threes, Harper took over and balled out. Auburn’s won games in very different ways in this tournament, and it’s shown that the team has matured from last year’s bunch that had no idea what to do if the threes weren’t falling.
But mostly, #WeveGotJared. — Jack Condon, College and Magnolia