Saturday, April 3, 2010

Final Four preview

Butler vs Michigan State

The first Final Four game features two number five seeds, Michigan State out of the Midwest region and Butler out of the West.

Players to watch

Durrell Summers- MS; guard

Raymar Morgan- MS; forward

Korie Lucious- MS; guard

Gordon Hayward- B; guard/forward

Shelvin Mack- B; guard

Matt Howard- B; forward

Why Butler will win:

Hayward and Mack will shoot over 50 percent, and the defense, led by Howard, will force Michigan State into a half court game. Butler is playing in Indianapolis, where there home is located, and if they can jump out to an early lead based on good shooting and smothering defense, the crowd will give them an edge.

They must force turnovers and stop the transition offense of the Spartans. Lucious loves to pass it to Summers down low, so Hayward and Howard have to stay with the zone. If Butler forces the game into a low-scoring affair, they have a great chance to win.

Why Michigan State will win:

They will control the tempo, and Lucious will lead the team without making unforced errors. With Kalin Lucas out, Lucious will need to play smart. There has been too many times where he played like a freshman. The Spartans will also have to control the paint. Summers and Morgan like to run to an area and shoot. If they can force Butler to cheat towards the inside, the Spartans will have open jump shots for their shooters.

The Spartans also have the more experienced coach in Tom Izzo. If the game gets into a chess match, the Spartans have the edge.

Prediction: Spartans 63, Butler 60

I think the experience will be just enough to propel the Spartans to victory. Izzo will have his team ready to play, and although Butler will have some success slowing the tempo, the Spartans have already had success against Wisconsin and Northern Iowa versus the half court scheme. I also see Lucious playing his best. The game will come down to the final seconds, and the Spartans hit their free throws in pressure situations.

Duke vs West Virginia

In the second game for the Final Four, the only No. 1 seed will square of against a No. 2 seed that already defeated a No. 1. Duke is out of the South region, and West Virginia is out of the East.

Key players

Nolan Smith- D; guard

Jon Scheyer- D; guard

Kyle Singler- D; forward

Da’Sean Butler- WV; forward

Joe Mazzula- WV; guard

Kevin Jones- WV; forward

Duke will win if:

The Blue Devils play the defense shown throughout the season. Duke has had its best defense in a long while, maybe ever. If their big three of Singler, Scheyer and Smith knock down their shots and Brian Zoubeck stays out of foul trouble, Duke will be very hard to beat. They can score in the half court and in transition.

They are the underdogs despite their seeding, and they could use it as a motivational tool. If Duke builds a lead, it will be hard to come back.

West Virginia will win if:

Butler and Mazzula take over the game. Butler can be a beast in the paint and Mazzula can use dribble penetration to weaken the Duke zone. If they can control the paint and force the Duke big men into foul trouble, the Blue Devils will have a hard time without much depth on the bench.

West Virginia just knocked off Kentucky by forcing them to be shooters. If Scheyer or Singler cannot hit outside shots, the Mountaineers will be able to control the game and force Duke to play catch up.

Prediction: Mountaineers 75, Duke 63

I believe West Virginia will force Duke to make jump shots, and Butler and Mazzula will force the Blue Devils into foul trouble. Without big men or a high shooting percentage, the Mountaineers will jump out to a lead and force Duke to play harder defense.

The Mountaineers have the scorers to match Duke’s three, and they have more depth.

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