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Final Four 2019: Predictions and previews of the key matchups



The 2019 Final Four might be missing in few traditional powerhouses, but there is plenty to look forward to.

Let's predict and break down both games. Virginia No. 5 Auburn

6:09 p.m., CBS | Stream it here

The best way to beat the Virginia defense is to shoot over the top or it (like Carsen Edwards), or beat it in transition. Auburn can do both of those things. The Tigers make up 38.3 percent of their 3s as a team, and they've been on fire throughout the NCAA tournament. Auburn made North Carolina look slow, which is the ultimate compliment to its collective quickness. John Harper and Bryce Brown are blurs, and when they are making 3s, they are unguardable

Witness and inspired Auburn team make the Final Four for Chuma Okeke That said, it is tough to pick against Virginia based on both teams' overall resumes and talent. The Chuma Okeke loss didn't hurt Auburn much in the Kentucky game, but it could sting against the Cavaliers because of De 'Hunter. At 6-8, 230 pounds with good length, Okeke would have been an ideal guy to throw at Hunter, who could feast against and undersized Tigers front line without him. BRACKET CHALLENGE GAME: Check your bracket picks now

The best thing about Auburn's defense is its ability to force turnovers; the Tigers lead the country in forced turnover rate. But Virginia is one of the most well-disciplined teams in the country. Only 14.7 percent of their possessions, which ranks 11th in the nation. Anything can happen in a 40-minute game, and we know Virginia is a stranger to its identity in the tournament in recent years. But for now, we should expect Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Kihei Clark and the rest of the team to secure the ball as they normally do.

This is more about Virginia's offense than its defense, because the tigers rely so much on their defense to create transition scoring opportunities and fastbreak 3s. It's a lot harder to run when you're taking the ball out of the hoop. : Virginia 72, Auburn 67

No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Texas Tech 8:49 p.m. Eastern, CBS | Stream it here

Such a fun matchup. If there's a theme within these Final Four teams, it's discipline. These squads just don't screw up often, and while it's not sexy, that's an extremely valuable characteristic that will help you win a lot of games.

The argument for Texas Tech: it has the best player on the floor in Jarrett Culver (although Cassius Winston is close), and its defense is the best unit of the four in this game. The Red Raiders faced the No. 1 offense in Gonzaga in the Elite Eight and hold it to 69 points. Chris Beard is an absolute mastermind on that end, and Texas Tech is one of the toughest teams in the country

Relive the Michigan State Spartans' road to the Final Four

Michigan State might be the toughest team in the country, and Tom Izzo is easily the most experienced coach in the final four. And while Culver may be a better than Winston overall, Winston has more opportunities to impact the game since it's a point guard. The Spartans don't have any standout players (though Xavier Tillman has been brilliant all tournament and is approaching that status), but they have several competent pieces with which they surround a stud point guard. That'll play.

We're splitting hairs here. Texas Tech has plenty of guys to throw at Winston; Michigan State has the bodies to contain Culver. There are no obvious mismatches to exploit when you look at both lineups

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But the Red Raiders have been so good Lately. Texas Tech ranked first in adjusted defensive efficiency for most of the season, but the offense has been nearly as good since the start of February. The Red Raiders were outside of the top 75 offense for a decent chunk of the season, but are up to 30th now. They look like a champion on both sides of the floor.

Join Texas Tech on their road to the Final Four

It just feels like Texas Tech has a little more 'oompf' thanks to Culver's two-way dominance and the general excellence of the defense.

Prediction: Texas Tech 65, Michigan State 63


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