I have been here with you all season long, breaking down the college basketball action, and giving you sharp betting advice. As is always the case, all good things come to an end, and we are nearing the end as half of the Final Four was decided yesterday, and the rest will be decided today. Texas Tech managed to hold off and upset top-seeded Gonzaga to win the West Regional bracket in a thriller.
The game was tight throughout, and the Red Raiders caught a huge break when Josh Perkins fouled the inbounder, a technical foul, in a two-point game, with just eleven seconds left on the clock. Tech sent Davide Moretti to the line, who then nailed both of his free throws, and then got the ball back with the technical. Jarrett Culver iced the game when he hit both of his strokes from the charity stripe and with just one second coming off the clock, the Red Raiders sealed the victory at the line.
Mental mistakes are always going to happen in big games like this, but this one really stung for the Zags, who were looking to break through with their first national title in school history. For Texas Tech, they advance to their first-ever Final Four.
In the second game of the afternoon, Carsen Edwards and the Purdue Boilermakers put up a valiant effort and came oh so close to knocking off the Virginia Cavaliers. If you haven’t seen the final few seconds of regulation yet, take a look. With the miracle bucket at the buzzer, the Cavs survived and took the game into overtime, where they took control. With the win, Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennet can finally erase his name from the best coach to never make a Final Four list.
After a fairly drama free first weekend of festivities, the second weekend delivered in a big way yesterday. And we have even more in store for you today as we have two very compelling Elite Eight matchups on the docket. In the first game, we have the Auburn Tigers taking on the Kentucky Wildcats in a battle of SEC teams. And in the late game, we have the Duke Blue Devils playing against the Michigan State Spartans. For our daily pick, we will take a look at the game between the Blue Devils and the Spartans.
The Duke Blue Devils have dodged back to back bullets and will try to make it to the Final Four today as they play the Spartans of Michigan State. The Blue Devils were able to survive against Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 despite giving Ahmed Hill a great look at a wide-open layup with less than a second left on the clock. This was the second consecutive game where Duke saw their opponent miss a big layup as time expired.
For the Spartans, they have lost just one time since February 5th and are on fire. Sparty has mostly coasted through the tournament thus far as they have won each of their three games by double-digits. That included an 80-63 beatdown of LSU in their last game. The Blue Devils are -2-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 150.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:05 PM PST from Capital One Arena in Washington.
The big question surrounding this game is the health of Duke star Cam Reddish. Reddish was a surprise last-minute scratch from the Blue Devils Sweet 16 game against Virginia Tech, and it showed as the Blue Devils narrowly escaped a major upset. Reddish will be a game time decision today, but I have a feeling he won’t be on the court. He hasn’t had much time to heal since he last sat out, and he was visibly limping when he headed to the bench in pregame warm-ups. Without Reddish, the Blue Devils must lean even more on stud freshman Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.
I have been a bit of a hater of this Michigan State team since they lost Joshua Langford to a season-ending injury early in the year. But they have continued to prove me wrong as they took charge in the second half of conference play and have been one of the hottest teams in the country for the last two months. The big reason has been the play of Cassius Winston.
This year’s NBA draft is stacking up to be one of the best ever, and with all that top line talent, Winston has been flying under the radar. But make no mistake, this guy is a lottery pick level talent. Against LSU, he played thirty-nine minutes, scoring seventeen points and dishing out eight dimes. If the Spartans want any real shot of upsetting Duke, they will need Winston to blow up today.
Duke is lucky to be here right now. They could have easily lost to both UCF and Virginia Tech. And now without Reddish on the floor, they really have their backs against the wall. But something tells me that this is a team of destiny. Every once in a while, we see teams where things just break their way. This year, the Blue Devils are that team. And with the ridiculous level of talent they have, it almost seems unfair that they keep catching breaks, but that is the case, nonetheless.
I have flip-flopped back and forth a couple of times on this game. If Reddish were on the floor, I would lean heavily towards Duke. But he likely won’t be. That makes this game, and this number, a very tough one. But I just can’t seem to bring myself to bet against the Blue Devils. They have the winningest coach of all time roaming their sidelines, and two of the best players in the nation in Williamson and Barrett. If Duke makes the Final Four, coach K will surpass the legend John Wooden with his thirteenth trip to the third weekend.
I think he gets it done today. The Spartans have managed to thrive without Langford on the floor for much of the season, but that lack of depth is going to hurt them tonight against an uber-athletic Duke team. I think the game will be very tightly contested, but things have been breaking Duke’s way all season long, and I think that trend continues tonight. Give me the Duke Blue Devils -2-points tonight from Washington!