Previews and predictions for the Final Four in Minneapolis

Auburn players warm up during a practice session
Auburn players warm up during a practice session for the semifinals of the Final Four on Friday in Minneapolis.
Matt York | AP

From the start, this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament has been full of wild finishes and memorable upsets.

The highly-touted team most people expected to win — Duke — failed to reach the Final Four, being held this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. But two teams that have never before reached the final weekend — Auburn and Texas Tech — are still in the running.

They're joined by Virginia, who hasn't been in the Final Four since 1984, and perennial basketball powerhouse Michigan State. Of the finalists, only Michigan State has previously won a national title in men's basketball.

The first semifinal starts just after 5 p.m. Saturday, with Auburn taking on Virginia. Michigan State and Texas Tech tip off just before 8 p.m. Saturday.

The winners play for the national title on Monday night.

MPR News producer Jeffrey Bissoy took a look back at the tournament so far, and previewed the Final Four matchups, with host John Wanamaker. In his March Madness bracket, Bissoy correctly picked two of this year's Final Four teams — Auburn and Texas Tech.

Here are some highlights of the interview; listen to the full Q-and-A on the audio player above.

Auburn's Bryce Brown
Auburn's Bryce Brown warms up during a practice session for the semifinals of the Final Four on Friday in Minneapolis.
Jeff Roberson | AP

Texas Tech vs. Michigan State

"One of the things about this Texas Tech team, is they're one of the top five defensive teams in the nation. They smother you on the perimeter, and with (center Tariq Owens) just so big, gets the offensive boards, gets the defensive boards — so going into that game against Michigan State, that's going to be one of the huge questions: How can Michigan State deal with that size, and at the same time how can you deal with a team that's shooting over 36 percent from the 3-point line? ...

"(Michigan State) just beat ... one of the most talented teams that we've seen in college basketball, in this Duke University team with Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. And going against Texas Tech, what it will come down to is turnovers. If they can control the pace of the game, if they can keep from turning the ball over, they're going to keep themselves in it all the way to the end."

Auburn vs. Virginia

"When you looked at Auburn this season, they were an up-and-down team. And up-and-down teams, they can be turbulent when you're trying to make your bracket, but they're also your favorite, because they become your sleepers — and in this year, Auburn would be your Cinderella even though they were a 5 seed."

Just last year, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the history of the tournament. But they rebounded from that disappointment with a run to this year's Final Four, thanks in part to strong three-point shooting and the Cavaliers' trademark stingy defense.

A prediction for who will win

"I think Auburn tops Michigan State in the final by five points — and what's beautiful about this tournament (is) there's a 75 percent chance that we do have a brand-new NCAA champion."

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