Saturday, April 3, 2010
There are four teams left, and I didn't have any of them in my Elite Eight. Go figure. Two five seeds, Michigan State and Butler, face off at 6:07 pm on Saturday. At 8:47, the last remaining 1-seed, Duke, takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers. So far, the Tournament has been fantastic, with the Xavier-Kansas State classic in my Top Five College Basketball Games Ever. From the two Saturday games, who would you take? How many of the Final Four did you pick on your bracket? Did you have any of these four teams remaining?
Michigan State vs. Butler
The Michigan State-Tennessee and Butler-Kansas State games were brilliant, dazzling games. Is it just me or does Butler coach Brad Stevens stunningly young for a head coach at a great program? Players to watch for are two power forwards, Butler's Gordon Hayward and Michigan State's Delvon Roe, who should be matched up on both ends of the court. He has to be the most eligible bachelor in Indianapolis. Both teams have been on terrific runs, and this should make for the best matchup of the weekend.
Duke vs. West Virginia
A few weeks ago, most pundits had the Blue Devils out of the Tournament by late March. The ACC Champion is gunning for a Mike Krzyzewski's eighth national championship game and fourth national championship. The ACC Champions are a senior-laden team that has been through three years of scrutiny, and they have a chance to walk away from Indianapolis with the last laugh.
On the other hand, a few years ago, it would have been hard to see Bob Huggins coaching an elite college basketball program at all. While a coach at Cincinnati in 2004, he was arrested for driving under the influence. He got a second chance at Kansas State, and then parlayed one year there into his current position in Morgantown, at his alma mater. It's easy to write the redemption script for Huggins, but hard to swallow it.
Neither Duke nor West Virginia has played many close games through the Tournament. WVU outscored their four opponents by 56 points, and by no less than seven points in any single game. Duke by 53 points, and by no less than six points. Frankly, I still think WVU is more talented and should be the favorite. But the Mountaineers simply cashed in on a hot shooting streak against a slumping Kentucky team in the regional final. They play a more disciplined and tougher team in an underestimated Duke squad.
Unfortunately, West Virginia decided not to show up against Duke. I pray to God Butler can find a way to win tonight. The thought of Duke and North Carolina winning back-to-back makes my stomach turn.
- golden eagle