The 2019 Final Four begins on Saturday in Minneapolis, Minn., with Michigan State facing Texas Tech and Virginia going up against Auburn for a spot in the NCAA championship. Here's our sports editors' takes on what will happen, and who will end up cutting down the nets on Monday night.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo reaffirmed his status as a March wizard last weekend, toppling Zion Williamson and No. 1 overall seed Duke by out-coaching Mike Krzyzewski in the Elite Eight.
The Spartans frustrated the Blue Devils into 17 turnovers and “limited” Williamson to 24 points, forcing Duke’s role players to beat them (they couldn’t). An Izzo-designed play for a Kenny Goins 3-pointer gave Michigan State a lead it would not relinquish and sent Duke fans reeling, wondering how the Spartans pulled off the upset.
With apologies to Virginia's Tony Bennett, Izzo is the best coach in this year's Final Four – and his Spartans will overcome Virginia in the title game to give Izzo his second national title.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver is probably the best player left in the NCAA Tournament, but Michigan State is the best team. I predict Culver and MSU guard Cassius Winston will cancel each other out, leaving Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and others to handle the Raiders in the semifinal.
And while No. 5 seed Auburn has been a fun story, I have its run coming to an end against Virginia, a team built to limit the Tigers’ fast-paced, run-and-gun style.
But that elusive first NCAA title for Bennett will have to be put on hold. Izzo is the only coach remaining with prior Final Four experience. He’s been there before, and his players, already one of the toughest bunches in college basketball, will be ready for the moment.
Michigan State 65, Virginia 57