Auburn Tigers (30-9) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (33-3)
Game time: Saturday, April 6, 6:09 p.m. ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Where to watch: CBS
Spread: Virginia -5.5
The lone No. 1 seed left in the NCAA tournament is headed to its first Final Four since 1984. The Virginia Cavaliers will face No. 5 Auburn in the first national semifinal game on Saturday in Minneapolis.
After a rough start against No. 16 Gardner-Webb in the opening round, plus a close win over 12th-seeded Oregon and an overtime victory against Purdue in the second weekend, Virginia hasn’t looked like much of a surefire bet in the tournament.
Auburn, on the other hand, woke up after a near-loss to New Mexico State in the first round and absolutely crushed Kansas and North Carolina before taking down Kentucky in overtime in the Elite Eight. The Tigers seemingly fear no one. Though, their quest for a championship has become a whole lot more daunting now that the team’s best frontcourt player, Chuma Okeke, is out with a torn ACL.
The Tigers rely heavily on the three, shooting half of their shots from behind the arc. Okeke had been shooting 38.7 percent from three-point territory. Now, the Tigers are left with Bryce Brown, a 41 percent three-point shooter, and Jared Harper (37.1 percent) to do most of the heavy-lifting. The two combined for 50 of Auburn’s 77 points in the win over Kentucky. But a similar performance will be a much taller task against the nation’s top defense.
Not only does Virginia rank second in three-point defense, but it’s also No. 1 in scoring defense (55.4 points against) and No. 5 in field-goal percentage defense (38.4 opponent field-goal percentage).
And, when it comes to offense, the Cavaliers feature their own three-point shooting brigade, with Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter each averaging around 40 percent from three-point land.
Virginia may not look scary on the surface when you see how close it’s played against its competition in the tournament, but the team does the right thing at the right time when the game is on the line. This one’s likely to be close, but a narrow victory should belong to the Cavaliers. You could go Virginia moneyline, but take Auburn +5.5 for the better payout.
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