Half of the Final Four is set, with two more games to be played today. Virginia advanced to its first Final Four since 1984, and Texas Tech reached their first in school history. Sunday’s games include an SEC showdown and a battle of two blue-bloods in Duke and Michigan State. Here’s a preview of Sunday’s two Elite Eight games:
Kentucky vs Auburn
In one of the bigger shockers of the tournament, Auburn blasted top-seeded UNC by 17 in the Sweet 16. North Carolina was pegged by many to reach yet another Final Four, having won 17 of their last 19 games. The Tigers were red-hot shooting the ball versus the Tar Heels, going 17 for 37 from three-point range. Chuma Okeke led the way with 20 points before suffering a serious leg injury. Auburn has already beaten Kansas and North Carolina. If they take down Kentucky on Sunday, they’ll have beaten the three winningest programs in the NCAA Tournament, joining Arizona in 1997 as the only other team to do so.
Kentucky survived yet another scare, this time in three seed Houston Cougars. Tyler Herro’s three-pointer with 25 seconds left sealed the victory for Kentucky, as he led the Cats with a team-high 19 points. The win sets us up for an SEC showdown with the winner advancing to Minneapolis for the Final Four. P.J. Washington is back and playing like an All-American for John Calipari, and the Cats are hitting their stride at the right time. Auburn’s hot too, having won 11 in a row with their last loss coming to…Kentucky. Auburn hasn’t been to the Final Four since 1986. Kentucky’s last Final Four appearance was in 2015.
Prediction: Kentucky – 79, Auburn – 72
Duke vs Michigan State
The Blue Devils have been flirting with elimination in their last two games. Both have been in dramatic fashion, involving their opponents missing point-blank opportunities at the rim. Duke got past ACC foe by a whisker in the Sweet 16 as Zion, RJ Barrett and Tre Jones combined for 63 points. The Blue Devils are now one win away from their 17th Final Four appearance.
The Spartans took care of LSU behind freshman Aaron Henry’s 20 points and eight rebounds. Michigan State’s ability to share the ball was a huge key in the game, assisting on 22 of their 31 made baskets. The Spartans size and experience proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome, especially with Will Wade not on the sidelines. They’ll look to make their first Final Four since 2015 on Sunday.
This is your typical Elite 8 showdown of college basketball heavyweights. ACC vs Big Ten. Coach K vs Tom Izzo. Winner advances to Minneapolis.
Prediction: Duke – 71, Michigan State – 66