And then there were four. 64 college basketball teams have been eliminated in the past two weeks, leaving us with a wide open Final Four field. So, which team is the favorite to win it all? Check out our power rankings below. To see the official title odds, click here.
Bruce Pearl has parlayed his success at Tennessee (.704 winning percentage) to a deep run with the Auburn Tigers. This team has improved steadily, going from 18 wins two years ago to 30 this season. Auburn’s trip to the round of 32 has morphed into a Final Four appearance this year as well. The Tigers’ 17-point blowout of the UNC Tar Heels may have been the most impressive win of the entire tournament. They followed that up with a 17-11 edge in overtime, taking down the favored Kentucky Wildcats. Auburn’s tough upcoming matchup with UVA is the reason they rank fourth on this list, though. Virginia plays a suffocating defensive game, one that Auburn will have to solve in order to pull off another upset.
3. Texas Tech
Speaking of great defense, no unit has been clicking like the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This team ranked third-overall in scoring defense this season, and continues to overwhelm tournament opponents. In fact, Texas Tech has given up less than 59 points in three games so far in March Madness. Jarrett Culver drives the offense, while the rest of group focuses on frustrating the other team. In this case, the other team will be the Michigan State Spartans, a group that ranked barely inside the top-50 in scoring offense. Both Final Four games could be ugly affairs, and if that is the case, those scenarios would favor UVA and Texas Tech.
Saying UVA has had the easiest path to the Final Four is not much of a debate at this point. The Cavaliers have faced a 16, 9, 12 and three-seed so far in the tournament, and nearly lost in the Elite Eight. It’s no secret this team’s strength is defense, but when they are forced to go toe-to-toe with an opponent, things can get dicey, just like Saturday’s game. UVA scored more than 80 points only seven times during the season. And they haven’t surpassed that figure since the month of February. Auburn can score, and they’ve showed off their offensive prowess throughout the tournament, averaging over 85 PPG. This is Tony Bennett’s first trip to the Final Four in his ten seasons with the Cavs.
1. Michigan State
One thing Tom Izzo has over each of the remaining coaches is a National Championship. Izzo accomplished something neither Bennett, Chris Beard and Bruce Pearl have by winning it all back in 2000. The Spartans finished as the runner-up nine years later as well. This is Michigan State’s eighth trip to the Final Four under Izzo’s guidance. MSU took down the three-seed LSU in convincing fashion, winning by 17 in the Sweet 16. Then, of course, they took down Duke in an unforgettable matchup over the weekend. Plus, whenever you knock off the tournament’s number one overall seed, you should be considered the new team to beat.