The first of the 2019 NCAA Tournament Final Four matchups are officially set. While the Virginia Cavaliers advanced in stunning fashion after hitting a buzzer-beating shot to send the game to overtime, they proceeded to defeat Purdue in the extra frame. While the 80-75 Virginia win came down to the wire, they got the job done and awaited the winner of the Kentucky Wildcats vs. Auburn Tigers.
After the Tigers lost Chuma Okeke to a torn ACL in the Sweet 16, many believed the Wildcats could run away with this one. That didn’t prove to be the case, though, as the two teams went back and forth throughout virtually the entire second half. When all was said and done, it was Auburn who got the job done in impressive fashion during the overtime session by a score of 77-71 with a strong offensive showing.
Duke and Michigan State cap off the Elite Eight action with the winner set to face Texas Tech. But for now, let’s dive into the matchup which was set first between Virginia and Auburn.
Virginia vs. Auburn Betting Line & Odds
*Note: All betting information courtesy of OddsShark and will be updated once it’s made public.
- Virginia Cavaliers (-5.5) vs. Auburn Tigers
- Over/Under: 131
Virginia boasts the nation’s best defense, allowing just 55.0 points per game, more than three points better than the next-closest team. Their 80-point explosion in the Elite Eight against Purdue was somewhat surprising, but it was helped by the duo of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome knocking down 9-of-22 from beyond the arc.
On the other side, the play of Auburn’s guards will be vital. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper combined for 50 points in the victory over Kentucky. They also did a little of everything while going toe-to-toe with a talented Wildcats roster. One question mark will be who else can step up for Bruce Pearl’s squad, as the two guards were the only players to hit double digits.
Virginia vs. Auburn Final Four Prediction & Pick
Mamadi Diakite could be huge for the Cavaliers in the paint against the frontcourt of their opponent here. The Tigers used a mixture of Horace Spencer, Anfernee McLemore and Danjel Purifoy to hold things down inside after the loss of Okeke. While it’s certainly a concern for Auburn, they still managed to get past the Wildcats and PJ Washington, who had an excellent game inside.
Beyond that, the two offensive leaders for Auburn in Brown and in Harper are going to be fun to watch in a tough matchup against the Virginia guards. Production from these two will be vital, as the three forwards above scored just 14 points with 14 rebounds against Kentucky. With that said, their biggest task in this next game will be protecting the rim while their teammates chase the Cavaliers guards around.
Much of this game will be decided by the guard play of these teams. Jerome, Guy and De’Andre Hunter against Brown and Harper will be fun to watch, but if Virginia is knocking down shots from beyond the arc, they’ll be tough to beat. I’m not expecting Jerome and Guy to combine for nine buckets from deep, but I think their outside shooting and this Virginia group’s defense will be too much for the Tigers.
It’ll be a close one, but I’m taking the Cavaliers to pick up the win.
Prediction: Virginia Cavaliers 66, Auburn Tigers 60
Pick: Virginia -5.5