Texas Tech Red Raiders (31-6) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (34-3) (TV: CBS)
April 8, 2019, 9:20 PM ET (U.S Bank Stadium)
Texas Tech +105 Virginia -125 / Virginia -1.5 Over/under: 118
NCAAB Officiating Mistakes
This has been an interesting NCAA Basketball Tournament with questionable officiating and close games throughout. Two plays stick out to me as egregious calls that weren’t correctly officiated and cost those unlucky teams the game. The first was at the end of regulation during the Sweet 16 game between Purdue and Tennessee. With Tennessee up by 2 points, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards drives down court for a lay up and Grant Williams blocks the shot, which clearly hit off Edward’s foot before going out of bounds. Unfortunately, for Tennessee they ruled it Purdue ball and on the subsequent play, Carsen Edwards gets fouled on a corner 3. Making only 2 of 3 free throws, the game went to overtime where Purdue prevailed. But, if it was correctly officiated Tennessee would’ve gotten the ball out of bounds following the Williams block and Purdue never would have had the chance at a game winning play.
The second play was in the closing seconds of the Virginia-Auburn Final 4 game with Auburn up 2, when Virginia’s Ty Jerome clearly dribbled it off his foot, then picked the ball up with two hands and continued dribbling. This was clearly a double dribble that wasn’t called and cost Auburn a chance at a National Championship. Auburn shouldn’t have fouled Jerome, even though they had a foul to give as it was unlikely he would’ve made the shot. The subsequent play, Kyle Guy got fouled on a corner 3 and made all 3 foul shots to send Virginia to the Title game, winning 63-62.
In both games neither Carsen Edwards or Kyle Guy should’ve had the chance at the game winning three because their teams shouldn’t have had the ball. But, nothing can be done to change the calls now and hopefully the NCAA learns from these errors so it doesn’t happen in future high stakes games. The NBA has a video review process so these errors don’t usually happen at the end of close games, and perhaps the NCAA should look at instituting a similar process so the referees don’t continue to steal games from these college teams. Hopefully, the championship game won’t be marred by any poor officiating.
The championship matchup will feature two teams with elite defenses. Virginia has the number 1 defense allowing only, 56.05 ppg. Texas Tech has the 3rd ranked defense, allowing only 59.40 ppg. This game should be a defensive battle as defense has proven to be the winning factor over the course of the tournament. Virginia is lead by junior guard, Kyle Guy (15.2 ppg 4.5 rpg 2.1 apg). Guy is one of their main perimeter threats, shooting 42.5% from 3. Sophomore guard, De’andre Hunter (14.9 ppg 5.0 rpg 2.0 apg) is an impressive athlete who uses his physical strength to overpower defenders and get to the rim.
Junior guard, Ty Jerome (13.5 ppg 4.2 rpg 5.4 apg) is their main ball handler who is capable of hitting the three and getting to his in-between game. Jerome has a shifty handle making him a tough cover and his unorthodox game should have Texas Tech struggling to contain him. Junior forward, Mamadi Diakite (7.4 ppg 4.4 rpg 1.6 bpg) is their best interior defender and will be key in protecting the rim.
Texas Tech is lead by sophomore guard, Jarrett Culver (18.6 ppg 6.3 rpg 3.7 apg). Culver is capable of hitting the three as well as getting to the rim because of his size and handle. Culver has been their best player and will need to step up against a stifling Virginia defense. De’andre Hunter is really the one player on Virginia that could potentially match Culver for physicality on both ends of the floor. Sophomore guard, Davide Moretti (11.4 ppg 2.1 rpg 2.5 apg) provides a steadying presence and a great three point threat, shooting 45.8% from 3. Senior guard, Matt Mooney (11.3 ppg 3.2 rpg 3.3 apg) has the ability to get hot and string buckets together as he showed in their previous game against Michigan State with a team leading 22 points in a 61-51 win. Mooney is a big, physical guard capable of creating his own shot and hitting the 3 at a 38.8% clip. If Mooney has another big game it could be enough to swing the outcome in Texas Tech’s favor.
Senior forward, Tariq Owens (8.8 ppg 5.8 rpg 2.5 bpg) is their main rim protector and will be key in slowing down Virginia’s penetrating guards. Senior guard, Brandone Francis (6.2 ppg 2.3 rpg 1.4 apg) is a physical guard that gives Texas Tech extra toughness on both ends. This should be a close game that will come down to a few plays down the stretch. Virginia is a decent offensive team averaging, 71.19 ppg, while Texas Tech averages 71.89 ppg. With not much separating the teams offensively or defensively the game will come down to execution in crunch time.
Pick: Virginia -1.5