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Final Four Betting Guide: Live Odds, Our Favorite Bets for Virginia-Auburn and Texas Tech-Michigan State

Credit:

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cassius Winston

  • Can Auburn play its transition game against Virginia? Will Texas Tech's elite halfcourt defense stifle Michigan State's offense?
  • We've got in-depth breakdowns on both Final Four games on Saturday.

#1 Virginia vs. #5 Auburn Final Four Betting Odds

  • Spread: Virginia -5.5
  • Over/Under: 131
  • Date: April 6
  • Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • TV: CBS

>> All odds as of Friday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


Auburn vs. Virginia might be the most fascinating clash of styles in the entire NCAA Tournament.

Tony Bennett’s Virginia team plays at the slowest pace in the country and wants everything in the half-court. Bruce Pearl’s Auburn pressures the ball, gets out in transition and loves to shoot 3s.

Which will win out in the Final Four? Our experts dive in.

Odds Moves for Virginia vs. Auburn

Virginia opened -5 offshore and moved to -5.5 shortly after. Despite most of the money coming in on Auburn, the line has held steady and even moved toward -6 at some books (see live odds here).

The total opened 133 and was immediately bet down to 130 before ticking up a point throughout the week. Steve Petrella

Trends to Know for Auburn-Virginia

Auburn is making the program’s first Final Four appearance. Since 1985, teams in their first Final Four have gone 4-10 straight up (SU) and only one team, UConn in 1999, has won the championship in its first appearance.John Ewing

In the Final Four and championship game, the team with the better seed — Virginia and Michigan State this year — have gone 24-5 SU and 19-9-1 against the spread (ATS) since 2005. Ewing

More than 70% of spread tickets are on Auburn as of writing (see live data here). Since 2005, underdogs receiving a majority of spread tickets in the NCAA Tournament have gone 108-135-5 (44.4%) ATS. Ewing

Virginia is the third team since 1985 to lose in the Round of 64 and return the season after as a No. 1 seed. The previous two teams in Virginia’s spot won it all: Indiana in 1987 and 2015 Duke in 2015. Evan Abrams

When Virginia Has the Ball

Virginia’s offense is designed for a high-percentage shot on every possession. It rarely forces shots and boasts the second-most efficient offense in the country.

The Cavaliers rank third best overall from 3-point range while shooting almost 75% from the foul line. They also average only 9.1 turnovers per game, the second-fewest in the country. This will be vitally important against Auburn, which has the highest defensive turnover percentage in the country.

Junior Ty Jerome (13.3 ppg) has been Virginia’s most consistent scorer, reaching double-digits in all four tournament games. His backcourt mate Kyle Guy (15.2 ppg) broke out of a three-game slump against Purdue with 25 points on 5 of 12 shooting from beyond the arc.

However, the biggest advantage will come with guard De’Andre Hunter (14.9 ppg). The 6-foot-7 sophomore will benefit from the absence of Auburn’s Chuma Okeke. He can attack the basket off the dribble and shoots 42.4% from 3-point range.

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Guy (5), De’Andre Hunter (12), Ty Jerome (11)

I expect Bennett to also use reserves Braxton Key (5.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Jay Huff (4.5 ppg, 46.7% 3P) much more in this game. Four of the last six Final Four games have hit the over, so Virginia might need more scoring to reach the title game.Mike Randle

When Auburn Has the Ball

Just because Virginia ranks top five in defensive efficiency doesn’t mean Auburn’s offense will be left for dead.

Virginia’s pack-line defense is meant to limit the opposition’s ability to attack the basket off the dribble, but it’s still allowed the 104th-highest 3-point scoring rate (34.0%). It allowed Purdue guard Carsen Edwards to shoot 10-of-19 (52.6%) from behind the arc in their Elite Eight matchup, allowing the Boilermakers to creep back into the game before losing in overtime.

The Tigers’ sixth-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (120.6 points per 100 possessions) hinges on its perimeter offense, producing the seventh-ranked 3-point scoring rate. It’s a product of their 15th-rated 3-point clip (38.3%), led by their starting backcourt of Jared Harper and Bryce Brown in transition.

Even if UVA keeps the rebounding margin tight while limiting Auburn from pushing the pace as often as the Tigers want, Pearl’s half-court sets should still be effective enough because of Harper and Brown’s quickness off the bounce.

Despite the loss of 6-foot-8 Chuma Okeke (torn ACL), Auburn bigs Austin Wiley, Horace Spencer, Anfernee McLemore and Daniel Purifoy will provide enough of a gang rebounding effort to generate second-chance opportunities to create mismatches from behind the arc.Eli Hershkovich

Stuckey: Can Auburn Get Out in Transition?

How often can Auburn get out in transition? That’s the key to the game in my eyes.

While Virginia’s defense does almost everything at an elite level in the half court, it is actually really vulnerable in transition. The Cavaliers rank 317th in the nation in transition Points Per Possession allowed, per Synergy Sports.

That could spell trouble against an Auburn team that loves to push it (one of 36 teams that gets out in transition at least 20% of the time) and does so successfully, ranking in the top 40 in that same PPP category.

Virginia only allows transition opportunities in a little more than 10% of its possessions but when it does, it struggles to defend. The Hoos are so elite the other 90% of the time that it would behoove the Tigers to speed this game up.

I think the game will come down to this number — if Auburn can get it in the neighborhood of 20%, it will have a really good shot. If it’s closer to 10, UVA likely wins a grinder.Stuckey

Auburn Can Expose Kihei Clark

While Auburn will miss Okeke, it still has two guards capable of beating Virginia’s pack-line defense with Harper and Brown. They both can not only do it in transition, but off the dribble in the half court. They can exploit Clark on both ends.

Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kihei Clark

The 5-foot-9, 155 pound Clark will really be the only freshman in this game, and while he plays extremely hard and disciplined defense (he rarely ever fouls), it’s hard not to be a liability at his size: Players can easily shoot and pass over him without much disruption.

Look no further than UVA’s on-off splits per HoopLens, which show that UVA is almost eight points better per 100 possessions when Clark isn’t on the floor.

For one, he can’t really shoot and is a gaping hole on the offensive end. He’s shooting worse than 35% from the floor on the season. Yes, the floor — not just from 3. While he looks the part on defense, the metrics don’t lie.

And for whatever reason, Bennett has increased Clark’s minutes this tournament as he has really constricted his rotation. Clark is averaging more than 32 minutes per game, which I think has contributed to the increased success of UVA’s opponent 3-point percentage.

In four games this tournament, opponents have shot 40-of-102 from beyond the arc against the Cavs. That’s higher than 39% — almost 10% higher than their season average.

Clark also owns UVA’s highest turnover rate at 19.7% (per KenPom), and that rate actually sits higher than 20% in conference play. That could play right into the hands of an Auburn defense that leads the nation in turnover percentage, forcing a turnover on an absolutely silly 24.9% of opponent’s possessions. Stuckey

Some Magic in Auburn

Look, UVA has been running bad on the offensive end from 3 and you could argue partially bad on defense as well.

A lot of that has to do with Guy’s shooting woes. If he can get it going, UVA is a different team offensively as his late shot clock 3s are daggers in the grinders UVA plays.

But there’s just something about this Auburn team.

The Tigers are playing as well as anybody in the country. They’ve won 12 straight overall, including seven against the KenPom top 25. Their road to the Final Four has been much tougher than Virginia’s, which really shouldn’t even be here if not for a miracle tip, pass and shot in the Purdue game.

Pearl has this team believing and the Tigers have the senior guards to get out in transition and break down UVA off the dribble when necessary in the half court.

Don’t count this Auburn team out. I’m invested enough with the Auburn futures and will add at +6. But if I didn’t have a future, I’d play small at +5.5. Stuckey

Number Spot On?

For me, this number is dead-on, but this wild ride for Auburn has been anything but predictable.

A lot of it has been predicated on the Tigers’ 3-point shooting, the volatility of which can help launch productive teams much further in the tournament than we thought possible.

I will give Bennett the coaching edge in almost every game he plays, and I think the idea that he has the longer prep time to get his team ready is valuable.

Someone like say, UNC’s Roy Williams, used that time less effectively against Auburn and got stung as a result. Virginia defends the 3 as well as any team in the country, and it turns the ball over as little as anyone.

The Hoos should be the Auburn kryptonite.

They also shoot free throws very well if it did come down to an end-game situation. But the market respects Virginia’s advantage here, and this number isn’t nearly far off enough for me to consider the Cavaliers. This is a pass for me, but I would consider Virginia in an open teaser leg where the Cavs would basically just have to win. Ken Barkley

Sean Koerner’s Virginia-Auburn Projections

These ratings were built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Virginia -5.5
  • Over/Under: 138
  • Score: Virginia 72 | Auburn 66.5
  • Win Probability: Virginia 70% | Auburn 30%

#2 Michigan State vs. #3 Texas Tech Final Four Betting Odds

  • Spread: Michigan State -2.5
  • Over/Under: 132.5
  • Date: April 6
  • Time: 8:49 p.m. ET
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • TV: CBS

Texas Tech is bringing one of college basketball’s best defenses of the last two decades to the Final Four to take on an elite offense led by arguably the best guard in the country.

With this short number, which will win out and cover? Our experts have dissected it from every angle.

Odds Moves for Michigan State vs. Texas Tech

It doesn’t get much more boring than line movement in Texas Tech-Michigan State.

With betting percentages and money split right down the middle, the line has sat at Michigan State -2.5 for almost the whole week after opening -3 (see live odds here).

The total has also remained steady despite more support on the under. Steve Petrella

Tech’s Second-Half Dominance

Under Chris Beard, Texas Tech is 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament against the second-half spread, covering by 7.7 points per game. In his past two seasons in Lubbock, he’s the most profitable coach against the second-half spread in the country.

Beard is 32-8-1 (80%) against the second-half spread when facing a non-conference opponent over his career, including 23-4 (85.2%) against the second-half spread when facing those opponents on the road or on a neutral court. Evan Abrams

Trends to Know for Michigan State vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech is making its first Final Four appearance. Since 1985, teams in their first Final Four have gone 4-10 straight up and only one team, UConn in 1999, has won the championship in its first appearance. John Ewing

In the Final Four and championship game, the team with the better seed has gone 24-5 straight up and 19-9-1 against the spread since 2005. Ewing

Texas Tech averages 69.4 possessions per game — the 260th slowest pace in college basketball. Since 2005, slow-paced (70 or fewer possessions per game) underdogs have gone 166-125-11 (57%) ATS in the tournament. Ewing

When Michigan State Has the Ball

The Red Raiders’ adjusted defensive efficiency at 84.0 opponents’ points per 100 possessions is the best in the history of KenPom (since 2002).

The Spartans will have a difficult time attacking the lane like they love to do.

Michigan State thrives off the pick-and-roll with point guard Cassius Winston and its trio of bigs, but Texas Tech’s ball pressure stymies that set. Although Tom Izzo’s attack can win a lot of ways, its interior scoring (50.0%) will struggle to find a rhythm.

But the assumption that the Red Raiders will turn the Spartans’ offense over consistently is a bit overblown.

The Spartans have faced havoc-driven defenses in Duke and LSU over the past two weeks, giving up 14 total turnovers, and Winston tallied just one against the Blue Devils while matching up with a sound on-ball defender in Tre Jones.

Now Izzo has just less than a week to prepare for the Red Raiders, so his unit should be ready for their tenacious style.

Michigan State is in position to take advantage of Texas Tech on the glass, too — especially with its 24th-ranked offensive rebounding rate (34.2%). Beard slots in the 6-foot-5 Jarrett Culver at the 4 spot 44% of the time, giving the Spartans a significant size advantage on a substantial amount of possessions. Expect that to wear down the Red Raiders’ defense. Eli Hershkovich

When Texas Tech Has the Ball

While always known for its stellar defense, it’s the offense that’s peaked during Texas Tech’s NCAA Tournament run. The Red Raiders scored 40 second-half points in their Elite Eight win over a Gonzaga team that boasted some of the top defensive metrics in the country.

The Spartans have a clear advantage on the boards, as Texas Tech only ranks 188th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. It is imperative for the Red Raiders that seniors Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase find a way to stay active on the offensive boards without getting into foul trouble.

Similar to Gonzaga, the Spartans’ defense does not force turnovers, ranking 342nd in defensive turnover percentage. This should allow Texas Tech to attack methodically on offense and try to get open 3-pointers for Davide Moretti (46.3%) and Matt Mooney (38.1%).

But the Texas Tech offense will revolve around Culver, and Izzo will likely use a variety of options to try to slow the Red Raiders’ All-American. Culver has been devastating when attacking the basket but just pedestrian from 3, shooting only 3-of-17 (17.6%) from beyond the arc in his past three tournament games.

However, the Spartans defense is incredibly solid, ranking ninth overall in adjusted defensive efficiency and second in 2-point shooting percentage while holding opponents to just 31.2% from 3.

This will be the ultimate chess match between two fantastic coaches. Mike Randle

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tom Izzo

Stuckey: A Fascinating Half-Court Battle

This game is really tough to call, which isn’t surprising to me since I make it a PK. I think it will be a thriller down to the wire, so I would obviously take the +2.5 points when I make it Michigan State -0.5.

Texas Tech has the best half-court defense in the country. You can either just watch how suffocating their aggressive, switch everything man-to-man defense plays, or look at the underlying metrics for confirmation.

Per Synergy, TTU only allows 0.73 points per possession in the half court, which leads the nation.

How good is that number? Only three teams had a single-season PPP lower since the 2013-14 year:

Meanwhile, Michigan State runs some of the best half court offense in the country — there’s a reason Sparty leads the nation with a 26.6% assist per possession rate. They have a star point guard running the show in Winston, shooters on the perimeter and a plethora of bigs.

Izzo’s bunch runs beautiful motion and always makes the extra (and usually right) pass. This is a veteran team that is mentally unflappable, as they’ve shown this tourney countless times and throughout the season.

Look no further than their three comeback wins against Michigan.

Something has to give between these two elite units. TTU’s switching ability, length and lane-clogging tendencies should make it tough for MSU to run its offense, but MSU should get plenty of opportunities on the offensive glass.

The wild card here is what Beard can cook up. He is an absolute game planning wizard, both pregame and in-game via second half adjustments.

No matter what way you slice it, this should be an absolute war on both ends.

I keep coming back to this being a coin flip, which is right on my number. (I actually make Michigan State a very slight 0.5 point favorite). I’d love to get a +3, which is what I’m holding out hope for. But a 2.5 would also have value, per my numbers.Stuckey

Barkley: Why I Like Michigan State

I really thought Gonzaga’s 3-point shooting and balance would finally find a way to upset what Texas Tech wanted to do defensively, but the fact is Gonzaga just couldn’t make any 3s at all. Whether you want to credit the Red Raider defense for that is up to you. Still, Gonzaga shot 7-for-26 from 3, and turned it over 16 times (which was a little more predictable).

Michigan State is just as lethal from distance — and from anywhere on the court, really — so it will be interesting to see if Texas Tech can raise their game that much further to stop this offense.

To me, this game hinges on is Michigan State’s ability to force Texas Tech to hit jump shots and play outside.

The Spartans play excellent interior defense, and they’re big and athletic. The Red Raiders hit timely 3s against Gonzaga when they needed them, but they’re going to have to do the same here — and more often than not I think they won’t be able to score enough doing that to win this game.

I like Michigan State in general in the game, but this number is interesting, too.

Texas Tech closed +4.5 against Gonzaga, won and Michigan State beat the No. 1 overall seed in Duke. You’re telling me the gap between these teams closed enough where this should be 2.5, considering those results?

Unlikely.

I also think it’s unlikely we ever rate Gonzaga properly since half (or really two-thirds) of its games are walkovers. If anything, the Spartans are just as good (if not better) than the Zags, and yet are getting less credit.

I’ll take Michigan State here, because I like both the match-up and the number. Ken Barkley

Ken’s Pick: Michigan State -2.5

Wilson: Why I Like the Over

As we saw with Gonzaga, pick a tempo and Texas Tech will oblige.

The Red Raiders are 229th in adjusted tempo, leading any handicapper to believe this is a slow paced team. But when facing teams that push pace on either side of the floor, Texas Tech was more than happy to match its opponent’s speed. February conference games against Kansas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and West Virginia all had more than 150 points.

Texas Tech will be comfortable scoring points at any tempo.

Also worth consideration is shooting for both teams. Texas Tech has faced two great defenses in the tournament already, scoring 153 combined against Buffalo and Gonzaga. The Red Raiders also send their opponents to the line frequently, and their opponents rank 26th in point distribution from free throws.

That’s great news for Spartan fans, as Michigan State is 33rd in the nation shooting just better than 75% from the charity stripe. Even if it’s close at the end, that should push this game over.

As mentioned on the Action Network Colleges Podcast, look for Cassius Winston “over” props on free throws. He leads Michigan State with 188 attempts and is the 137th player in the nation making free throws at 83.5%. Collin Wilson

Collin’s Pick: Over 132.5

Sean Koerner’s Michigan State-Texas Tech Projections

These ratings were built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Michigan State -2.5
  • Over/Under: 131
  • Score: Michigan State 67 | Texas Tech 64.5
  • Win Probability: Michigan State 57.2% | Texas Tech 42.8%

Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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