NCAA Final Four face off for basketball title
Tensions are high as there are four teams remaining in the NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament
April 4, 2019
Sixty-Eight teams started in March madness, but only four have survived to the semi-finals. The final four, Virginia, Auburn, Michigan State and Texas Tech, only have one previous title between them- with Michigan State taking it in 2000. Virginia is the clear favorite to win out, but as the tournament has shown so far, that means nothing.
Virginia has been in the tournament for six straight seasons, but have not made it passed the round of 16 They were upset last year in the first round, being the first number one seed to lose to a number 16 seed, and are looking to push that memory out of the their heads with a national title victory. They might have been blessed by Auburn’s upset over UNC and Kentucky, but they could be another victim to Auburn themselves. They will look to prove that they deserve their one seed and be crowned the national champions for the first time in their school’s history.
Michigan State is the only program remaining with a title under their belt, which was under the same coach, Tom Izzo, who is currently coaching this Spartan team. With this experience, Michigan State has a coaching edge against their competition as Izzo can handle the pressure of big spots and make level-headed calls. They are also coming off of two huge wins, with their last win against juggernaut team Duke being a great upset despite the relatively small seeding difference. They should look to ride their momentum straight to their second national title.
Auburn is the lowest seed left in the bracket, being the fifth seed of their region. They have spent most of their time in the tournament knocking out higher-seeded teams, as they beat the fourth-seeded Kansas, first-seeded University of North Carolina, and second-seeded Kentucky on route to the Final Four. This is Auburn’s first Final Four in program history, so going home now would be very bittersweet. This is coach Bruce Pearl’s fifth season with the school, having coached for other teams like Tennessee and Milwaukee for ten years. They will look to complete their cinderella run by running through remaining favorite Virginia and then whoever survives to the national championship game.
Texas Tech might be considered the least likely to win it all, but they have defied the odds up to this point by beating Michigan and Gonzaga, the two teams seeded above them in their region. They have projected NBA lottery pick Jarrett Culver, giving them a slight edge in the talent department. This is perhaps counteracted by their coach, Chris Beard, as this is only his fourth season coaching college basketball, so his inexperience might be a hindrance to their success. If their Beard can coach like he has been coaching for over a decade, then Texas Tech can bring their school it’s first piece of hardware in it’s long history.
This has been an insanely unpredictable tournament, as there are zero remaining perfect brackets in the entire country. Now with the remaining four teams, none are out of the realm of possibility to win the whole thing. One thing is for sure though: whoever comes out on top will have earned it.
Jack Kirk is a senior at Robinson and the Sports Editor for the Knight Writers and RHSToday. He is a sports junkie, music lover and chicken tender expert....