Saturday, April 3, 2010

Final Four Predictions

And then there were four, but few thought it would be this four. Two hundred brackets out of almost 4.8 million on correctly predicted Duke, West Virginia, Michigan State and Butler would make it to Indianapolis. And I was a bit surprised to see that many get it right.

Michigan State vs. Butler

Butler is the only mid-major left, but the Bulldogs are not a mid-major program. They have 10 NCAA tournament wins since 2001, including two Sweet Sixteen appearances in addition to this year's Final Four. If Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward get hot from outside, I don't think Michigan State can keep up. They key player for Butler is Matt Howard. The Bulldogs' undersized center will have to compete against the nation's best rebounding team. The Spartans are playing without star point guard Kalin Lucas but that hasn't affected them the last two games. And how do you pick against Tom Izzo, who has led his teams to six Final Fours in the last 12 years? I have a simple answer for that: I don't.

Michigan State 68, Butler 62

West Virginia vs. Duke

West Virginia proved to be the best of the No. 2 seeds and continued the momentum created by winning the Big East tournament championship. Their 1-3-1 zone befuddled the top-ranked team left in Kentucky, and they're going to rely on that happening again. Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones are the stars that led the Mountaineers throughout the season, but point guard Joe Mazzulla stepping in for Darryl "Truck" Bryant carried them to the Final Four. His career-high 17 points against Kentucky helped him earn the East Regional's Most Outstanding Player. Duke is led by the three S's in Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer. Scheyer is the key. Kentucky lost to WVU because they were 4 for 32 from three-point range. I expect Scheyer to hit at least four, and the Blue Devils will win the game at the free-throw line late in the game.

Duke 72, West Virginia 68

Championship Game

Duke's size and talent is superior to Michigan State's. And even though Izzo gets his team to overachieve, he only has one title. I'm going with Coach K and his three titles. And I think Scheyer will get payback for not winning the ACC Player of the Year and be named the Final Four's MOP.

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