And then there were four. Pypeline contributors Aarman Seth, Sunil Karnik, Mike DeVoe, Shelton Moss and Jason Gibbs had a round table discussion on the Final Four and tell you who will play in the title game.
Texas Tech vs Michigan St
Jason: All right, let’s do it! Texas Tech vs Michigan St. Sparty is -2.5. Thoughts?
Mike: It is a match-up of 2 pretty solid defenses. Texas Tech, as you’ve mentioned before, being the best Adjusted D in the country. Didn’t MSU cause like 18 turnovers against Duke?
Sunil: I think so. Texas Tech though feels like the Michigan of last year.
Mike: Gotta love how Culver has been playing, though.
Jason: They forced 17 vs Duke. And they needed every one of them.
Sunil: I felt like the B1G was overrated all year, so I am going to stick with that and got with the Runnin’ Rebels to win 68-63.
Jason: Haha, Larry Johnson & Stacey Augmon FTW!
Sunil: UNLV been playing nasty. But in all seriousness, no one wants to face Texas Tech right now. They are like the Orlando Magic of the college basketball world.
Jason: Scott Skiles and Penny Hardaway FTW!
Mike: Give me Texas Tech as well.
Jason: How about a shoutout to Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard? Dude was coaching D2 ball just a couple of years back. Rocket ride to the top.
Sunil: That guy is a damn good coach.
Jason: Definitely two, tough-nosed, defensive minded coaches. Should be a slugfest.
Mike: The Red Raiders really have been shutting everybody down in the tournament. Depends if MSU’s Cassius Winston and Co will be able to create shots and prevent the Tech from making them have one of their worst offense outings of the season. Seems like Texas Tech has done that to nearly everyone in the tourney so far.
Sunil: I think it is wild to think where Izzo and Pearl were just a year ago. Both were battling for their jobs due to outside “scandals.”
Jason: Sparty averages 6 more boards/game. In a defensive slugfest, 2nd chance points will be key.
Mike: Texas Tech held the zags to their 3rd lowest point total of the year, Buffalo to their lowest total, and Michigan to their lowest total as well. All in the tourney.
Aarman: My take on Texas Tech: they are the most impressive defensive team I have seen since maybe that 2011 Kentucky team with Anthony Davis. They are legit, and took the Zags out of their game. On offense, I think Moretti is fantastic. And my key to the game will be that match-up between Moretti and Winston. Moretti is a better shooter than Winston right now, and I wonder if that’ll stay that way with Winston all over him.
Sunil: Morretti and Friends.
Aarman: For Sparty, the result of the game will depend on their ball security. Sparty is averaging over 10 TO’s per game. That won’t get it done against this Texas Tech defense. I think MSU will have to play to it’s strengths and that is rebounding and toughness.
Jason: I’m with you, Aarman. Rebounding might be the single biggest factor in the game.
Aarman: I think Xavier Tillman, Nick Ward, and Kenny Goins are essential to MSU in order to pull out the W. I love the leadership of Tom Izzo and Cassius Winston in this game and that’s the difference. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tech, the hottest team in the country, pulled off the upset.
Sunil: I just am not impressed with Sparty. Maybe it is because every game I watched them this year, they seemed to always play from behind.
Aarman: I think that’s why they are more impressive, Sunil. They know how to handle adversity. That’s a mark of a great team and program.
Shelton: KenPom likes Michigan St better. Honestly, I’ll take Sparty. Top 10 Defense and Offense. The Texas Tech offense is just not consistent enough.
Jason: Red Raiders were wildly inconsistent earlier in the year. But since Feb, they’ve actually been one of the best OFFENSE in the country. That’s too much to overcome, in my opinion. I’m going to go Texas Tech
Runnin’ Rebels Red Raiders 65-57.
Shelton: Michigan St 64, Texas Tech 58.
Sunil: I got Texas Tech 68, MSU 63.
Aarman: I say Sparty 60-55.
Auburn vs Virginia
Sunil: Ok, let’s move on to the next game. Auburn vs the team that lost to FSU in the ACC semifinal.
Jason: Word on the street is Auburn has come down with the flu. Which they got from UNC. Which they got from Iona. Dun dun dun!!!
Sunil: That is just Bruce Pearl pulling some sneaky stuff.
Jason: Virginia -6. What do we think?
Sunil: I think UVA covers pretty easily.
Shelton: UVA covers, barely.
Sunil: Auburn is on fire but I think the luck runs out.
Aarman: How about the ultimate Cinderella story? A 1-seed UVA loses a year ago in the first round to a 16 seed. This season? They win the entire tournament.
Sunil: UVA vs Texas Tech in the world’s most boring title game. I picked UVA in my bracket challenge. So I have a vested interest in their success.
Jason: Virginia does seem like a team of destiny.
Sunil: UVA is the first team ever to make the Final Four a year after getting knocked out in the round of 64.
Aarman: I have MSU against UVA in Championship.
Jason: The o/u is 131. Seems like the over hits easily.
Sunil: I actually like the under. Auburn played pretty slow vs UK.
Aarman: I just think that first game against Gardner Webb was the one hurdle they needed to cross. They did that and struggled, but now they can go all the way.
Jason: Jerome et al’s length could be a problem for Harper & Brown for Auburn. They’ll have to use their speed to try and neutralize that pack line defense.
Aarman: Also, Kyle Guy is special from 3 and can keep pace with anyone from Auburn. Additionally, UVA does not turn the ball over much at all, which is a major disadvantage for Auburn because they get about 10 points a game off turnovers.
Mike: Kihei Clark runs that offense so well for a freshman. He came outta nowhere, too.
Jason: Yes, Auburn can’t turn the ball over. That will be a quick way to lose. The one thing is if Auburn gets hot from 3 like they did vs UNC, I don’t know if UVA has the firepower to come back, if they’re down big. The Hoos play such a methodical brand of basketball, it’s not conducive for comebacks.
Mike: Great point. UVA can’t fall behind in this one. The pace of this game is going to be a big factor. If they are going to run and gun, Auburn has a huge advantage. But if UVA can slow it down, they’ll come away with the win.
Sunil: I just can’t get over this pass. Made this graphic after watching it again just now.
Jason: I think a lot of times when teams have a run of luck and are sort of “happy to be here” so to speak, when they get to the Final Four, it’s a completely different animal. I think that’s the case with Auburn. I’ve got the Wahoos 64-60.
Sunil: UVA 68-59.
Mike: Give me UVA 66-60.
That’s a wrap! Should be some great games! Join us next time for the next Pypeline Roundtable.