Number of titles won; numbers of teams making the Final Four; number of Final Four wins – The Atlantic Coast Conference comes out on top.
Butler has relied upon turnovers to create offense. Those chances will decrease against the experienced Duke back-court. Michigan State, Kansas State, and Syracuse looked uncomfortable having to run half-court offense for 40 minutes. Duke will not be so easily frustrated.
Butler scores fewer points per game, but the Bulldogs hold a greater scoring margin. Butler scores 69.4 and keeps opponents to 59.6. MSU averages 72.4 while limiting opposing teams to 64.1.
West Virginia used a 1-3-1 zone to slow a young Kentucky team. The Mountaineers will need more against Duke. The Blue Devils will not be confused by any defenses. The common criticism of Duke is that the Blue Devils can not handle athletic teams. Duke dispelled that theory in their victory over Baylor.
A 1-3-1 zone worked against a young Kentucky team. Can the zone work against a team that can hit from the outside? Huggins basketball is never pretty, but it is often effective.
8.7 Rebound margin – number one on the country. Two better than any team remaining (West Virginia – 6.6).
Butler’s 69.4 points per game ranks 157th. The obvious conclusion would be that the Bulldogs slow down the game. It gets tricky when looking at their field goal percentage 44.9 (89th) and 3-pt. percentage of 34.5 (148th). Combine that with a rebound margin of 2.9 (77th) and it can get confusing as to how the Bulldogs have run off 24 in a row.
What can be said about Tom Izzo, that has not already been stated? While others recruit, Izzo coaches. Add to that, the guy does not air his dirty laundry in public. Everyone knew there were problems in the Spartan program this year. A few benchings and suspensions indicated motivation was an issue for the Green.
Experience versus enthusiasm. Michigan State is supposed to be here. The Spartans returned seven players that played at least 12 minutes in last year’s national final. Tennessee showed glimpses of being spectacular this season. The Volunteers knocked two number ones from the pedestal this season: Kansas and Kentucky.
Which force is the strongest? Baylor might have the best blend of athleticism and talent in the country. Can Dunn succeed against Duke’s pressure on the perimeter? The Blue Devils limit opposing shooters to 27.8 percent from behind the arc (2nd in the nation). In the Blue Devil defense, Baylor will find a group that does not back down. Dunn and teammates might have hot stretches today, but Duke will make them prove it for the entire game…