The Glue Guys: The Final Four 2019

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo

MESPORTS

Video Credit: NCAA March Madness Official 

MINNEAPOLIS– To quote the legendary Dicky V, “Glue guys aren’t superstars. They’re not the No. 1 option. They just do things only coaches really appreciate. The stars get the headlines, but glue guys help you get in the winner’s circle. I don’t think you can win without having that kind of player.”

March may be over but the madness of college hoops is far from over heading into this weekend Final Four matchup. Amidst all the uncertainties that always surround this time of the season, fans can at least be guaranteed that is going to be a wild photo finish to the end with unpredictable twists and turns and buzzer beaters.

Tonight the stage is set as the four remaining teams Michigan State, Texas Tech, Virginia and Auburn battle to the finish. Just to see who can make their team stick it all the way to the Championship Monday in Minnie! Many fans are in lament over  UK and Duke not being in this final line up tonight but I have to say this is what I enjoy about college hoops this time of year is that it really can be any ball clubs game even the “glue guy” teams.

For teams like Texas Tech and Auburn, they are trying to make a place in history with this being both programs first appearance in the Final Four. Its been a 35-year-old dry spell since the Cavs were cheering Wah-Hoo-Wah, wah-hoo-wah! Uni-v, Virginia!Hoo-rah-ray,hoo-rah-ray,ray–UVA! Old “Sparty” is the closest of the final bunch that tasted something this sweet since 2015. Each of these ball teams is just two games away from cutting down that net at U.S Bank Stadium and finally making that come back once again.

The Line-Up


Semi-Final Game #1

Saturday, April 6th,2019

No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 1 Virginia

U.S Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

Tip-Off 6:09 p.m.

Network: CBS

Line: -5.5 Cavaliers

Semi-Final Game #2

Saturday, April 6th,2019

No. 3 Texas Tech vs No. 2 Michigan St.

U.S Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

Tip-Off 6:09 p.m.

Network: CBS

Line:-2.5 Spartans

The Buzz

No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 1 Virginia

No. 1 Virginia

The Cavs are the only remaining  #1 seed left in this dance. You could say they learned their lesson last March after being the first  #1 seed to fall to at #16 seed. You can be sure that Tony Bennett (Son of legendary coach Dick Bennett) and his Cavs have made it to far to fall the same way twice.

I wasn’t even thought much less in existence when the Virginia boys were last gracing the final four courts back in 1984, This season has been all about bouncing back for Coach B and his ball clubs. The Cavs have been no stranger to setbacks and comebacks losing in the semis of the ACC tourney to the Noles. However, sometimes a loss can be just what the Dr. ordered to remedy what ales you.

The Cavaliers boast the fewest allowed points in the nation at roughly 55.4 per game. They have knocked out # 3 seed Purdue, #9 seed Oklahoma #12 seed Oregon and #16 seed Gardener-Webb in this years edition of the tourney.  While some believe that fast pick up game is the way to go Tony Bennet and his brigade have stuck to slow style play that steadily seems to be winning this race for the Cavaliers. Can Coach Bennett and boys make their attention to offensive detail be enough to put them over the top of a grandiose playing Auburn ball team? The Cavs make a strong case with their improvement individual by its players and collectively as a team to be able to adjust with quickness and versatility.

No.5 Auburn

If there was any team that seems the poster child for “glue guys” it is the Auburn Tigers. If there was anyone who knows how to lead a team thru “adversity” of any shape or size it would be Head Coach Bruce Pearl for a stack of reasons. The Tigers are looking to make history in their first appearance in the final four in program history. They are the lowest-seeded team to still be the last team standing come Monday evening in Minneapolis. The Tigers are not one of the teams that anyone in the college hoops worlds expected to come close to making here (especially the Kentucky Wildcats). When it comes to describing their season there is nothing that sets them apart like most teams you expect to be in the final dance.

However, they have demonstrated that when push comes to shove they can hang with the rest of them. After all its not always how you start especially in basketball but rather how you finish.  The Tigers late season surge made all the difference in them attaining a spot here tonight in the semifinals against UVA. Auburn turned heads late in the seasoning winning the SEC championship. They have managed to dethrone # 1 seeded Kentucky #1 seeded North Carolina # 4 seeded Kansas #12 seeded New Mexico State this tourney season.

What I think is a strong suit for this ball club to be victorious here this evening aside for its momentum is its ability to overcome adversity. The Tigers have finished strong and overthrown some big contenders amidst the Madness. The fact the Bruce Pearl and his ball club can play well under pressure this time of the year shows they can sift thru the BS and take care of business thanks to not just their ability but the deep depth of their personnel. Can the Tigers continue to find a way to handle business and set their sites on closing the biggest deal of program history this weekend?

Both these ball clubs have an intense fire that makes this time of the season so special and goes beyond the scoreboard. This rag to riches storyline won’t be sung by this Tony Bennett but instead, I have to go with the Boys from the Sweet Sunny South, Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers over the Cavs in a buzzer beater in the Final Four Semis game #1

The Buzz

No. 3 Texas Tech vs No. 2 Michigan St.

No. 3 Texas Tech

As the saying goes, “ It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts, its how many times you get back up. If there was any ball club that has been resilience this ride it is Chris Beard and the Red Raiders. The Red Raiders have been knocked down plenty of times this season but have found a way to always get back on the road to glory.

Texas Tech has been no stranger to lose this postseason. They suffered a big loss in the quarters of the Big 12 tourney to Mountaineers of West Virginia who by the way is a non-NCAA tournament team. But its all about comebacks to get to this point tonight. Before this season the Raiders couldn’t make it past the sweet 16. But times they are a changing and this go around Texas Tech has knocked off # 1 seeded Gonzaga, #2 seeded Michigan, #6 seeded Buffalo and #14 seeded Northern Kentucky to make their first final four appearances in program history. They are two games away from the big enchilada do they have enough up guns up to keep firing on in this fight against a tough Sparty ball club?

No. 2 Michigan State

The will to win and the will to endure goes a long way. Sometimes the fruits of a teams labor are not always as soon as they hoped for. However, especially in college hoops, a team with consistency and chemistry will eventually move mountains when it’s their time. The Spartans are not the most talked about or wow team when it comes to college hoops.

Hell, the last national title they won was 19 years ago and their last final four appearances was back in 2015. What Michigan State does have to go for them is their ability to remain consistent over the long haul. From the teams that remain standing the Spartans are the only team that really have a resume of postseason accolades but we all know that looking good on paper in the past doesn’t matter much under present circumstances.

The Spartans head into this evenings match-up with a hell of a lot of momentum and mojo after knocking the # 1 overall seeded Duke Blue Devils. The Spartans have built up quite a lot this tourney season winning the Big 10 and taking down #3 seeded LSU # 10 seeded Minnesota ( The Cards loved that one) #15 seeded Bradley.

Can their experience and consistency of being a regular in the tourney finally pay-off once and for all and give them the edge over the rest of the newbies?  A win tonight would finally get them an appearance in the championship which has been a long time coming for Coach Tom Izzo and his teams, to say the least.

This is a tough one for me to call but looks like old faithful will be out of luck once more to the Texas Tech Raiders. The Raiders have demonstrated they are resilient enough to play strong against some tough seeded teams across the board and remain on top. I have Texas Tech over the Michigan States in game 2 of this evenings Final Four fandango.

When its all said and done it comes down to which team has the will that will make a way that can sticks. Come Monday in Minnie I got to go with Auburn vs Texas Tech making history one way or another as the last two teams standing after this evenings match-ups.

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Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a Senior Editor and writer for Main Event Sports. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist, NFL Network content writer, and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.She can be reached at misskentuckyus2011@gmail.com. Follow her  on Twitter @ Misskyus2011

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