Butler 52, Michigan State 50: Michigan State looked like they had solved Butler’s difficult defense early. 22 points in 12 minutes portended – alas it was only 22-20 as Butler managed to keep up. Then the game’s defense picked up and the offense slowed … way … down … over the next 28 minutes the score was 32-28 … P U. Butler shot 30.6% and WON. The last ten minutes of the game featured (I might miscount here) 3 baskets combined. Overall, it was enough to induct a nap, especially after a day in the sunlight.
Duke 78, West Virginia 57: OK, I have come around. After the usual naysaying about Duke and the lack of NBA talent they have (though Kyle Singler impersonates one from time to time), and what sanctimonious pricks they and their fans are … this is a good team. Sure, this is not the shock and awe, press and run sort of outfit the 2001 team had when they and the officials combined to beat Maryland and Arizona. However, this team might actually in some ways reflect K’s experience from the Olympic team – his system has been dialed in to take advantage of Duke’s tremendous size. 78 points would be a meh game in Duke’s heyday, but this was a clinical shooting and defensive effort. West Virginia obviously struggled, and had not shot well all season. Their coach acknowledged their efforts to guard the Duke perimeter unleashed the rebounders and that was an edge the Mountaineers had exploited all season against other competition. That said, there was not a hell of a lot they could do. Duke was that good.
Butler’s defense on the perimeter is for real. They will make it hard for Duke in first shot defense. But protecting the boards? Good luck. I can’t root for Duke, but I can acknowledge that they are championship timber. Duke 66, Butler 54