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Final Four 2019 #804 Virginia Cavaliers -6

It may not be the Final Four you, or CBS, wanted, but it’s a pretty darn good one that we’ve got.

Virginia and Michigan State have been legitimate National Title contenders all year long, Texas Tech has been the best defensive team in the nation and has a bonafide Lottery Pick star in Jarrett Culver, and Auburn has slid into the LSU void as the “SEC team that can hang a banner only to soon take it back down.”  And lest you get upset with that joke, their assistant coach PLED GUILTY to the FBI…so not a HUGE leap of faith to suspect something might not be kosher in Tiger land…

But you don’t care about any of that.  You care about winners, specifically the Vegas variety.  Let’s see if we can deliver.

Here’s my favorite play on the board today.

FINAL FOUR 2019

#803 Auburn Tigers vs. #804 Virginia Cavaliers -6

I liked Virginia in November.  I liked them in February.  I liked them before the tourney began and I especially like them tonight.  Auburn is explosive and has been on one heck of a run the last four weeks, winning the SEC Tournament and ripping through the NCAA Tournament, discarding Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky in their wake.  But none of those teams defend like the Hoos, who have stifled some of the more dynamic offenses in the country already this season.

The real kicker for me is that injury and fatigue and illness are settling in for Auburn as well.  They are already without leading rebounder and significant offensive contributor Chuma Okeke.  Now reports are flooding in that both Bryce Brown and Jared Harper are “under the weather.”  That’s a lot to overcome in  game Auburn was already pretty heavily favored to lose.  Surprisingly to me, the line has only move about a point since the news of illness broke, perhaps a caution against it being a little overstated or even a ploy to deflect some pressure.

I’m not too worried either way.  Virginia is the better team who has yet to play their best game in the tournament.  Auburn feels like they’ve been playing over their heads a little too long and that after the emotion of the weekend wore off, now has to figure out how to contend with De’Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite without their best interior player.

Virginia has long been burdened by the label of March underachievers; always a top seed but never a Final Four participant.  They’ve even LOOKED like it at times this tourney.  Now that they are on the final stage, I think some of that pressure fades and they can be loose and free to exploit the many matchup advantages they own this evening.

I’ll eat the points and stick with the best two-way team in America.  If anyone can slow down Auburn, it is UVA.  And if they slow them effectively, there is no way a short-handed Auburn team can win in a halfcourt game.

PREMIUM PICK:  #804 VIRGINIA CAVALIERS -6

 

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