Sports Column: Final Four preview

NICK MERSCH
SPORTS EDITOR

Hello sports fans, I’m back with more sports stuff to rant about. My favorite time of the year is coming to an end and it’s really quite sad. I love March Madness more than certain family members, and it’s coming to a close pretty soon. The Final Four has arrived, and it’s not what a lot of people were expecting. We have a five-seed team that is as hot as a team can be along with one seed looking for redemption after losing to a 16 seed last year. Let’s dive in and take a look at each team and how they match up in their respective games.

Auburn vs Virginia:

After winning the SEC Tournament, Auburn went from being a bubble team to a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament. This team only knows one way to play, fast and guns a-blazing. They shoot the ball a lot, and most of the time from behind the 3-point line. The Tigers are attempting the second most threes per game in the nation and are making the third most. Everyone on the floor for this Auburn team is very capable of knocking down a jump shot, and they have a few guys that can take over a game at any time. Defensively, Auburn currently has the most steals in the country, which is due to the fact that they can easily speed teams up and force bad decisions.

Virginia, on the other hand, might be the exact opposite of Auburn, locking up and slowing down the game to their own pace while they pick teams apart with their off-ball movement and efficient team basketball. Virginia is currently number one in the nation in terms of opponents’ points per game, and it shows by their record and defensive prowess. Offensively, the Cavaliers’ attack is slow, but effective. They’re prone to going on scoring droughts when the likes of Kyle Guy or Deandre Hunter can’t spark the offense, but their defense covers them from giving up big runs to opposing teams. As a result, leads aren’t easily taken from this Virginia team. This matchup should be interesting simply because it’s two very different teams that are playing at a high level and will be trying to dictate the style in which the game is played.

Michigan State vs Texas Tech:

Michigan State has been notorious for getting upset as a high seed in the past five years, and it’s good to see them finally having a solid tournament appearance. The Spartans took care of business for the most part during conference play and had a strong conference tournament run that earned them a two seed in the big dance. What sets this Mike Izzo team apart from others is the fact that they share the ball really well. They’re averaging the third most assists per game in the nation and are also in the top 20 in field goal percentage. This Spartan team is very efficient offensively and has simply made big plays against good teams and found ways to win. That seems to be the result of having older guys and a really good coach.

Texas Tech plays similar to Virginia but seems to have a little bit of a looser leash on offense when they are attacking. Texas Tech is third in the nation in points allowed per game, and they are in the top 20 in blocked shots per game. Offensively, the Red Raiders don’t really have any impressive season statistics, but they seemed to have hit their stride when it counted the most. Their scoring rapidly increased in the second half of conference play, and this carried into the postseason tournaments. This matchup should lead to another great battle to determine how the game is going to be played with great plays on both sides of the floor. Watch for big plays from Cassius Winston of Michigan State and Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech.

That’s all I have for now, sports fans. Make sure you keep reading the Troubadour and that you keep watching basketball while you still can.