March Madness by the Numbers: Final Four Preview and Best Bet

Jason Paglia

Thursday, April 4, 2019 7:47 AM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 4, 2019 7:47 AM UTC

The NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament started with 68 teams. After a ton of joy and even more heartbreak, the strong have survived. We are down to the Final Four.

<h2>Preview</h2><p>Defense has ruled the day thus far in the tournament, so it’s no surprise that the two best defenses in the nation represent half of this years Final Four. Virginia and Texas Tech have been nothing short of spectacular this year defensively and they continued their dominance in the tournament. The Auburn Tigers are the wild card in the Final Four. Offensively they have been amazing in the tournament, especially from long range. Their 3-point percentage single-handedly beat Kansas, but it was their incredible performance against North Carolina that opened the eyes of the public. Due to a torn ACL, the Auburn Tigers will play without Chuma Okeke for the remainder of the tournament. However, they did prove they are still dangerous after beating blue blood Kentucky in the Elite Eight to grab a Final Four birth. The last team to make the Final Four on Sunday was Michigan State. The Michigan State Spartans have been the definition of consistency in this tournament. They might be the most balanced team remaining. Cassius Winston and Nick Ward carried the Spartans past the number one overall tournament seed in an absolute classic. Michigan State was punched in the mouth multiple times but continued to get back up and finally past the Duke Blue Devils. These four teams have proved their legitimacy, but I feel there is one game Saturday in particular, that has the biggest edge. Let’s breakdown this matchup, by the numbers.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;&lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinalFour?src=hash&amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#FinalFour&lt;/a&gt; welcome, Minneapolis style 🌲&lt;br /&gt;🔶⚔️🔷 &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHoos?src=hash&amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#GoHoos&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"https://t.co/O0iKItIeRl\"&gt;pic.twitter.com/O0iKItIeRl&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/UVAMensHoops/status/1113614803929530368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;April 4, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><h2><strong>VIRGINIA (33-3) vs AUBURN (30-9)</strong></h2><p>Virginia Came into the tournament as the ACC Regular Season Champions. The one riddle they were not able to figure out this year were the Duke Blue Devils. Luckily for Virginia, Michigan State took care of Duke in the Elite Eight which has set Virginia up perfectly to run the table. Auburn on the other hand, did not win the regular season title in the SEC. They did however come out of nowhere to win the SEC Conference Tournament. Everything came together perfectly heading into the tournament for Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers. They escaped the first round with a one-point victory over New Mexico State which they could have easily lost. In the 2<sup>nd</sup> round their three-point shooting ended the run of the Kansas Jayhawks and Auburn was flying high, and then the injury to Chuma Okeke happened. They made it passed UNC and Kentucky somehow and now they face their toughest opponent yet.</p><table border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="width:594px" width="594"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p> </p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>Virginia</strong></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>Auburn</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">Scoring Defense</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>55.4pts</strong><em>. (1<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>68.9 pts</strong> <em>(107<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">Scoring Offense</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>71.8 pts</strong>. <em>(196<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>75.9 pts</strong>. <em>(36<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">Field Goal %</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>47.9%</strong> <em>(25<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>45.0%</strong> (140<em><sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">Field Goal % (D)</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>38.4%</strong> <em>(5<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>43.5%</strong> <em>(163<sup>rd</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">3pt Field Goal %</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>40.1%</strong> <em>(5<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>37.8%</strong> <em>(32<sup>nd</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">3pt Field Goal % (D)</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>27.8%</strong> <em>(2<sup>nd</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>35.0%</strong> <em>(221<sup>st</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">(D) Rebounds</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>148<sup>th</sup> </strong><em>(in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>334<sup>th</sup></strong> <em>(in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">(O) Rebounds</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>256<sup>th </sup></strong><em>(in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>62<sup>nd</sup> </strong><em>(in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">Free Throw %</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>74.0%</strong> <em>(68<sup>th</sup>in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>71.4%</strong> <em>(155<sup>th</sup> in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center">Fewest Turnovers</p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>4<sup>th</sup></strong> <em>(in Nation)</em></p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:21px"> <p align="center"><strong>224<sup>th</sup></strong> <em>(in Nation)</em></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width:198px;height:7px"> <p> </p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:7px"> <p> </p> </td> <td style="width:198px;height:7px"> <p> </p> </td> </tr> </tbody></table><p> </p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://s3media.247sports.com/Uploads/Assets/950/102/9102950.jpg?fit=bounds&amp;crop=1200:630,offset-y0.50&amp;width=1200&amp;height=630" style="width:600px;height:315px" /></p><p>The Auburn Tigers’ story has been great in this tournament. These are the teams that make this tournament so special every year. Now granted, this isn’t exactly the Cinderella story of a 12 seed making it to the Final Four but when you look at the teams Auburn has had to face thus far It’s been a daunting task. Aside from the first round, they have been the underdog in every game in this tournament. Getting passed Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky two of which without a key player due to a devastating injury, Auburn deserves a ton of credit. Unfortunately, now they play the best team in the country, and Cinderella’s carriage is primed to turn into a pumpkin. Virginia has been the #1 team in the nation at defensive efficiency and #2 team in the nation at Offensive efficiency. That equals an incredibly tough team to deal with. Auburn has lived and died this year by their three-point shooters. That is the problem, and that is why I think they lose on Saturday. Virginia is #2 in the nation at three-point defensive field goal percentage, allowing only 27.8% of three-point shots to go in. If that stat holds true in Saturday’s game (and I think it will) then Auburn will be in a world of trouble. The second biggest problem that I see for Auburn is how much better Virginia is offensively this year compared to last. Last year they were a team completely dependent on defense, it was there identity. This year they found the missing piece to balance them out, and incredibly efficient offense. I think Virginia pulls margin in the 2<sup>nd</sup> half of this game. The clutch play from Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome down the stretch should be enough to maintain the lead and never look back. The Virginia Cavaliers cover the game and earn a spot in the National Championship Game.</p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&amp;a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18" target="_blank" title="NCAAB Betting Odds"><em><strong>THE PICK – Virginia -5 at 10/11 (1.90) with Bet365</strong></em></a></p>
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