Final Four 2019: Schedule, Odds, Predictions for NCAA Men's Tournament Semifinals

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2019

Virginia's Ty Jerome (11) celebrates with teammates Kyle Guy (5) and De'Andre Hunter (12) during overtime of the men's NCAA Tournament college basketball South Regional final game against Purdue, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Virginia won 80-75. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

Anyone who thought this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament was boring likely changed their opinion after this past weekend.

The Elite Eight featured exciting battles and memorable individual performances, leading us to what should be an excellent last three games to decide a champion. This will start with the Final Four, two national semifinal games that could go in a lot of different directions.

No result would really be surprising, but here is a look at what you should expect in the upcoming games.


Final Four Schedule

Saturday, April 6: No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 5 Auburn; 6 or 8:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

Saturday, April 6: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Michigan State; 6 or 8:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

Full schedule available at NCAA.com.


Final Four Odds

B/R Betting @br_betting

#FinalFour odds 💰 - Michigan State -2.5 vs. Texas Tech - Virginia -5.5 vs. Auburn



No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 5 Auburn

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 31: Bryce Brown #2 of the Auburn Tigers reacts to a play against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 31, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christi
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Virginia overcame Carsen Edwards and one of the most impressive individual performances of all time, as the Purdue guard dropped 42 points in the Elite Eight. While the Cavaliers survived that output, it won't get any easier with Auburn.

Instead of one player who can shoot threes, nearly the entire Tigers lineup can make it rain, and it has been red hot throughout the tournament.

Auburn led the nation in made three-pointers during the regular season and is averaging 9.8 made threes per game in four tournament wins. If the Tigers make their shots, they can beat any team in college basketball.

Meanwhile, they are coming off their most impressive showing of the tournament despite the close score:

Pat Forde @YahooForde

Auburn, after losing a guy they couldn't lose, is going to the Final Four. Incredible performance. Incredible coaching job in this game by Pearl. Huge miss by Kentucky.

Chuma Okeke was out against Kentucky while the team shot just 7-of-23 from the outside, but the Tigers still brought their intensity and outworked their SEC rival for the Elite Eight victory. Jared Harper and Bryce Brown were nearly unstoppable from anywhere on the court.

This should give Auburn a lot of confidence heading into the next round regardless of opponent.

The problem is this could be a difficult matchup against a team that tied for first in the country while holding teams to just 27.8 percent from three-point range. Purdue showed you can still make threes against Virginia, but there won't be too many open ones.

The Cavaliers have also seemingly moved past their tournament disappointment from 2018 when they lost to No. 16 UMBC.

"Nobody knows what we've been through in the last year," Ty Jerome said after the win over Purdue, per Dana O'Neil of The Athletic. "The hard work, the focus, nobody but the guys in the locker room get it."

Virginia can now refocus on the Final Four and show why it has been one of the best teams in the country all year long.

The trio of Jerome, Kyle Guy and De'Andre Hunter should cause problems for Auburn as the ACC squad squeaks by for a win.

Prediction: Virginia 65, Auburn 63


No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Texas Tech

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Michigan State didn't have the most talented team in the Elite Eight, but the squad beat Duke thanks to disciplined effort and some big plays by key players.

The game-winning play by Kenny Goins came off a perfectly executed play out of the timeout:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

What a CLUTCH 3️⃣ to put @MSU_Basketball up ✌️! #MarchMadness | #Elite8 https://t.co/OX5Dpe9OgL

Meanwhile, the Spartans limited Zion Williamson with excellent defense. They are a well-coached team that makes few mistakes, which led to easy wins over Minnesota and LSU before squeaking one out against Duke.

With Cassius Winston, arguably the best point guard in college basketball, Michigan State has what it takes to bring home a championship over the next week.

However, beating the Red Raiders clearly won't be an easy assignment.

You might have heard about Texas Tech's defense, but it has been extremely impressive in this tournament:

Drew Hallett @DrewCHallett

Texas Tech's adjusted defensive efficiency (84.0) is the best by any team in the KenPom era (since 2002). Texas Tech has held each opponent it's faced in the NCAA Tournament to one of its two worst offensive efforts of the season (in PPP).

Gonzaga had been the No. 1 scoring offense in the country before being held to 69 points in the Elite Eight, while both Michigan and Buffalo were embarrassed offensively.

Jarrett Culver is one of the best two-way players in college basketball, but the entire team buys in on the defensive end of the court. Adding in Tariq Owens blocking and altering shots in the middle, there is virtually nothing easy against this team.

Meanwhile, the offense remains efficient with everyone shooting well and Culver creating points against any defenders.

This could create a low-scoring battle that will come down to one or two possessions.

In that situation, however, you want to go with the team with the veteran guard who always seems to make plays when his team needs it the most. Winston has carried the Spartans to wins in the past and should be able to do it with a clutch play late.

Prediction: Michigan State 71, Texas Tech 67