Auburn, Virginia, MSU, Texas Tech arrive at Final Four | AP sports

Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter Auburn's Bryce Brown Michigan State's Cassius Winston

Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter Auburn's Bryce Brown Michigan State's Cassius Winston

Talk about a wild Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

Michigan State could easily be in the final. The idea for Auburn is to get Virginia out of it's comfort zone.

What surprised Gildshire the most in March Madness, so far?

Just not as much as expected. They have been the first team to 20 points in three of their first four contests.

No. 5 Auburn vs.

The cliche says defense wins championships. The only under was last year's Loyola-Chicago vs. MI game that fell short by only two points.

"If you're going to take a contested shot, it's probably going to be later in the clock", noted Pearl, "If it's late in the clock, we'd better make that one, or if we don't make it, we'd better get somebody on the team to rebound it and get the next possession". But junior guard Jared Harper scored 26 points and senior guard Bryce Brown added another 24, as Auburn used their speed to beat Kentucky and advance to the Final Four.

All three played past year while leading the program to its first NCAA Tournament trip since 2003.

What a difference a year makes. "And then when they get to be upperclassmen, they're ready to play the best". Despite the loss, Virginia still earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Gardner-Webb was UVA's first-round opponent, the 16-seed. They went on to beat Oklahoma 63-51, then avoided being upset by No. 12 OR 53-49. Virginia seems to be the team of destiny this season, especially with heavy favorite Duke being knocked out already.

Against Purdue in the South Region final last Saturday, Hunter entered overtime with six points on 3-of-8 shooting.

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No. 3 Texas Tech (30-6) vs. Auburn and Texas Tech are first-timers. Head coach Chris Beard was recently named the Associated Press men's basketball coach of the year.

"Coach said smell the roses", echoed Red Raider Jarett Culver.

In an appearance on Get Up this morning, Bilas predicted Michigan State and Virginia will win their respective Final Four games and make the title.

Defensively, the Tigers ability to force turnovers and score in transition by creating offense with great defense will also be a huge factor.

In the West Regional Final, Texas Tech faced off against a strong No. 1 Gonzaga team. They shot 39.1 percent from three while holding the Zags to only 26.9 percent, showing why they're one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Cavaliers (33-3), meanwhile, have won four straight and are making their third Final Four appearance. That season, the Spartans lost to eventual National Champion Duke 81-61.

"They do believe in each other, they trust each other they want to win for each other", said Head Coach Tom Izzo.

The Spartans have been on a tear this season, winning the Big Ten Tournament Championship 65-60 over rival MI to earn a No. 2 seed in the East Region. They are the culmination of a journey that started in early November when most people weren't paying attention.

The Red Raiders contest against Gonzaga did go over 137.5 as the two teams combined for 144 points (75-69). Those are essential to winning it all. He is one of two whose names appear at the top of mock NBA Draft boards, along with Culver.

It also means some adjustments to how Auburn runs its timeouts and stoppages in play, with the Tigers placing chairs on the court - something they don't typically do and something Pearl has never really done as a coach - to save the players in the game from having to climb down to the bench and back onto the court. Texas Tech was an afterthought in November.

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