Final Four Bracket Picks 2019
Most of my brackets, I will admit, aren't in great shape. I went all in on Duke and Gonzaga in different brackets, so when they went home, I was left to lick my wounds. But I got the big win I wanted, beating my son in our family bracket. Sure, he's only 8 and doesn't really watch basketball much. But after three straight years of losing to him, I was going to beat him if it killed me. That kid was going down. And I will remind him of his failure for the next year. Luckily, I am given the opportunity to repick my brackets after each weekend of the tournament. So, without further ado, here are my Final Four bracket picks for 2019:
Virginia vs. Auburn: I have been wrong on Auburn all the way along the path to this point. I was really skeptical about them heading into the tournament, doubting they could maintain the momentum of their SEC Championship overachievement into this tournament. I picked them to lose to New Mexico State. And while they didn't lose, they won by only a single point, and I doubled down on my negativity. But something clicked for this team at that point. They crushed a messed-up Kansas team. They overwhelmed top-seeded North Carolina. And they showed a lot of toughness to beat a very good Kentucky team in overtime. It has been a very solid run. But have I learned from overlooking them in the past? Am I suddenly on the Auburn bandwagon? Heck no. I don't learn that easily.
Virginia has faced a much easier path to Final Four than Auburn has and hasn't looked nearly as good doing it. But I am still picking Virginia here, and ultimately it comes down to four different reasons. I like Bruce Pearl fine, but if I have to take one coach here it's Tony Bennett without hesitation. Virginia's talent is deeper and more impressive. Virginia has been tested more this year and has looked better doing it. And Virginia's defense is the aspect that can control this game, and that gets them picked here.
Michigan State vs. Texas Tech: Tom Izzo has an incredibly large advantage in experience over the other coaches here. He has a national title, and he is making his eighth Final Four appearance. No other coach has been here before. But Izzo has gone only 2-5 in his Final Four games over the year, so I'm not going to give him too much credit for that experience. Beating Duke was impressive, and it was a very good game, but as the tournament went along it became obvious with Duke that their lack of shooting and depth was going to be a problem - even if Zion Williamson is a total freak and Duke's top end talent was insane. Beyond that Michigan State has been winning handily, but they have been doing so against underwhelming teams.
Texas Tech's run has been very impressive. They crushed the life out of a Buffalo team that came into the game seeming very dangerous. They totally dismantled Michigan, grinding the life out of the team with stifling defense. And when the defense wasn't shutting down Gonzaga as effectively, they regrouped, matched the Bulldogs punch for punch, and came out on top. Chris Beard is a heck of a coach, and he has this team in his hand.
As a Michigan fan, I'm in an ugly spot here - pick the team that humiliated us, or our biggest rival. I'm going with Texas Tech here.
Virginia and Texas Tech: This is going to be far from the most exciting game in history, and the TV ratings are not going to be particularly impressive. But if you like defense, then this is going to be the place for you. Both coaches are committed to defense and have a style and approach that obviously works very well. The game could go either way. In the end, though, I will take Virginia - and not just because of how amazing it would be to go from losing to a No. 16 to beating everyone in one year. They have more experience playing big games, play in a tougher conference, have a more experienced coach, and have more depth. Virginia is the pick.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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