Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM
Sunday's Elite Eight Tips
Brackets | Matchups | Expert Picks
The other half of this year’s Final Four will be decided on Sunday with the championship matchup in both the Midwest and East Regions.
First off in an all-SEC showdown, the No. 5 Auburn Tigers tangle with the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats for a trip to the Final Four out of the Midwest bracket.
Over in the East, the Big Ten’s Michigan State Spartans will square off against the ACC’s No. 1 Duke Blue Devils for the final spot in the 2019 NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Midwest Region Final (Kansas City, MO.)
No. 5 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats (CBS, 2:20 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Kentucky -3, 143 ½
Auburn started this run to the Elite Eight by winning this year’s SEC Tournament. The Tigers upended Tennessee 84-65 in the championship game on March 17 as five-point underdogs. Their current straight-up winning streak stands at 11 games with victories over New Mexico State, Kansas and North Carolina in this tournament. Auburn has gone 7-2 ATS in its last nine games with the total going OVER in the Tigers’ last four contests.
In Friday’s 97-80 romp over No. 1 North Carolina as a 5 ½-point underdog, Auburn lit it up from three-point range by going 17-for-37 from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Chuma Okeke shot a blistering 72.2 percent from the field to lead the way with a game-high 20 points. However, he left the floor in the closing minutes after tearing the ACL in his left knee. He will miss the remainder of the NCAA Tournament.
Two of Kentucky’s 15 conference wins this season came against Auburn. The Wildcats covered the closing number in both games with the total evenly split 1-1. Heading in the third meeting this year, they are 10-2 SU in their last 12 games with tournament victories against Abilene Christian, Wofford and Houston. They covered the closing spread in all three games despite winning the last two games by a combined 10 points.
The total stayed UNDER 135 ½ points in Friday’s 62-58 victory against Houston as two-point favorites. It has stayed UNDER in eight of Kentucky’s last 10 games. PJ Washington missed the first two rounds of this tournament with a foot injury, but the sophomore forward made his presence felt in the Sweet 16 with 16 points on Friday night while shooting 75 percent from the field.
-- The Tigers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games and they have gone 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against a team with a SU winning record. The total has stayed UNDER in 12 of their last 15 games against a SU winning team.
-- The Wildcats have a 6-1-2 record ATS in their last nine NCAA Tournament games. The total has stayed UNDER in five of their last six games at a neutral site and it has stayed under in 13 of its last 16 games in this tournament.
-- Kentucky has won four of the last six meetings SU, but Auburn has the slight 3-2-1 edge ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in 12 of the last 15 games between the two.
East Region Final (Washington DC)
No. 2 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (CBS, 5:05 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Duke -1 ½, 148 ½
The Spartans’ current SU winning streak reached eight games with Friday’s 80-63 rout of LSU as six-point favorites. They have covered the spread in six of those games. The total stayed UNDER 148 points in that win and it has stayed UNDER in four of their last five contests.
Michigan State started this tournament with SU victories against Bradley and Minnesota after beating Michigan 65-60 as a slight 1 ½-point underdog in the Big Ten Tournament’s championship game.
Aaron Henry suffered the wrath of Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo earlier in this tournament and he responded on Friday night with his best game of the season. The freshman forward scored a team-high 20 points with eight rebounds and six assists to help lead his team to the Elite Eight.
Duke has been on a roll since mid-March with a SU six-game winning streak that includes a 73-63 victory against Florida State in the ACC Tournament’s title game as a seven-point favorite. This run also includes Friday night’s tight 75-73 win against conference foe Virginia Tech laying seven points on the closing line. The Blue Devils have now failed to cover in seven of their last eight games. The total went OVER 143 points in Friday’s contest after staying UNDER in six of their previous eight games.
Freshman sensation Zion Williamson scored a game-high 23 points in Friday’s win while going 11-for-14 from the field. Forward RJ Barrett added 18 points and 11 assists with Tre Jones scoring 22 points to help seal the trip to Sunday’s East Region Championship. A fourth freshman, Cam Reddish sat this one out with a bad knee. He's 'questionable' for Sunday and listed as a game-time decision. Reddish is Duke's third-leading scorer behind Barrett and Williamson.
-- The Spartans have covered the spread in seven of their last 10 nonconference games and they are 4-1 ATS in their last five games played on Sunday. The total has gone OVER in seven of their last 10 games in the NCAA Tournament.
-- The Blue Devils are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games against the Big Ten, but they have failed to cover in their last five NCAA Tournament games. The total has stayed UNDER or ended as a PUSH in 23 of their last 31 games following a SU win.
-- Duke has a 4-1 edge ATS in the last five meetings and the total has gone OVER in the last four games in this Big Ten/ACC tilt.