This year’s Final Four participants are not exciting. These teams are not flashy, they are not filled with NBA talent, and outside of Duke, none of the teams generate any national interest. What is being lost in all of the complaining of who made it to Indy is the fact the two games on Saturday should both be great games.
Everybody loves watching the alley-oops and big blocks by Kentucky, but they were an inefficient basketball team that got by on talent alone who could not make a free throw or three pointer to save their lives. They deserved to get bounced.
Syracuse can play lights out offense and stifling defense, but they did not take care of the ball and had poor shot selection. Butler deserved that win.
The team that really could have made this final four more interesting, at least on an athletic level, was Kansas State. But they were worn down from the game versus Xavier, which was their own fault, they had chances to put that game away in regulation but squandered them. Kansas State proved how tough the tourney can be, the better teams do not always make it. Note: in a neutral site game with both teams having an even amount of rest I think Kansas State would handle Butler. In fact, if Kansas State had made it to Indy with this grouping I think they would have been the overwhelming favorite.
But, the fact that some of these more exciting and perceptively better teams did not make it to Indy should create some quality basketball games. None of these teams will be able to run away from each other. Too many times in the recent past has the Saturday semifinal games been a complete bore. These games should both come down to the final minutes simply because nobody has the talent to produce a large enough spurt to daze the opponent.
Line: Butler -1.5 126
This should be a good game. Both teams are similar in offensive efficiency but get there in different ways. Butler protects the ball and gets to the free throw line. Michigan State gets offensive rebounds. On defense Butler forces turnovers while both teams are good on the defensive glass.
Butler will get a few more possessions due to turnovers then get more free throw attempts. Michigan State will combat that with offensive rebounding but will still have trouble scoring.
Pick: Butler Under
Line Duke -2.5 131
There is a reason everybody is looking towards this game as the national championship, both teams are ranked in the top five of the Kenpom Ratings while Butler is 12 and Michigan State is 23. Of course that means nothing come game time, but on paper it does appear that the two best teams at the final four are meeting here.
Both teams hit the offensive glass while neither is great on the defensive glass. Neither team really forces turnovers, nor does either team cough it up. A couple areas that could stand out to be the difference. Duke is the number one team in the country in defense 3 point FG%, the three pointers were a big reason West Virginia advanced over Kentucky. Another area is FT%, Duke hits them at the 8th best % in the country.
One other thing to look for is Duke gets a lot of shots blocked while West Virginia is a long team, if the refs are allowing the blocks versus calling a lot of fouls Duke will again have to rely on the three to win.
This is really more of a hunch than anything else but I think Duke is able to hit more shots and get enough calls to move on.
Pick: Duke Over