UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
More Sports

Experts' Picks: Final Four

Experts' Picks: Final Four
SI.com's eight experts predict how Saturday Night's Final Four semifinals will play out.
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Butler
 
Seth Davis
You don't win four NCAA tournament games by a total of 13 points without being a little bit lucky. Butler may be the home team in Indy, but I predict another dose of Spartan magic.
MICHIGAN STATE 64, BUTLER 60
Stewart Mandel
With the hometown crowd on its side, Butler will advance to the title game Monday night. The Bulldogs have proven well by now their ability to dictate tempo and lock up opposing scorers and will do so again.
BUTLER 57, MICHIGAN STATE 52
Luke Winn
The Bulldogs haven't let anyone break the 60-point mark all tournament, and why should the Spartans be any different than Syracuse or Kansas State? The Veasley Effect will be the difference, holding Durrell Summers in check from beyond the arc.
BUTLER 61, MICHIGAN STATE 59
Andy Staples
Saturday could be the night the injury to Kalin Lucas finally catches up to the Spartans. Playing a shoot-first point guard (Korie Lucious) against a team that prides itself on its perimeter defense is a recipe for a low shooting percentage. If Butler's Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack can make a few threes and the Bulldogs can keep Michigan State from completely owning the boards, the Bulldogs can win.
BUTLER 61, MICHIGAN STATE 58
Andy Glockner
The Bulldogs may be playing at home, but the Spartans are right at home playing the slow, halfcourt style Butler prefers and will severely test the resolute Bulldogs on the glass. In addition to MSU's superior size and athleticism, mix in improving health for Chris Allen and Delvon Roe, more big-game experience and the best current coach in the land, and Sparty gets it done.
MICHIGAN STATE 63, BUTLER 58
Tim Layden
All props to Tom Izzo for getting Michigan State over the hump of midseason chemistry problems and back to the Final Four. Even more props for winning in the Sweet 16 without the dynamic Kalin Lucas running his team at the point. But make no mistake: cuddly Hoosier themes aside, Butler is no Cinderella. The spidery and skilled 6-foot-9 Gordon Hayward and 6-8 Matt Howard present major matchup problems for the physical Spartans and that will make the difference here.
BUTLER 75, MICHIGAN STATE 70
George Dohrmann
At some point not having Kalin Lucas has to come back to bite the Spartans, but not against Butler. Go with the team that plays the best defense and has the coach with the most Final Four experience.
MICHIGAN STATE 71, BUTLER 68
Joe Lemire
The Final Four ought to bring out the best in the best, and Butler forward Gordon Hayward is arguably the most talented player who will take the court at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis this weekend (with the Spartans' Kalin Lucas sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon). Expect the 6-foot-8 Hayward, the Bulldogs' leading scorer, to steal the show. After all, he's already hit a buzzer-beating game-winner in Indianapolis, having done so as a Brownsburg High senior in the Indiana Class 4A title game.
BUTLER 67, MICHIGAN STATE 61
 
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 West Virginia
 
Seth Davis
The Blue Devils have made a living off the offensive glass all season, but I did not think they could dominate the boards against a big, strong, quick team like Baylor. Yet they did just that to the tune of 22 offensive rebounds. Duke will hold its own inside, and its Big Three won't go 4 for 32 from trey land.
DUKE 74, WEST VIRGINIA 69
Stewart Mandel
The Mountaineers have made it this far without even coming close to firing on all cylinders offensively. Look for a big scoring night from Da'Sean Butler and for West Virginia to win the rebounding battle.
WEST VIRGINIA 73, DUKE 64
Luke Winn
We're due for some Da'Sean Butler tournament magic. These Blue Devils are much better than the 2008 squad that was manhandled by the Mountaineers in the second round, so look for this game to go down to the wire. That's when Butler will answer a last-minute leaner from Nolan Smith with a banked-in buzzer-beater, moving WVU on to Monday night.
WEST VIRGINIA 72, DUKE 71
Andy Staples
In my original bracket, I had West Virginia beating Duke in this game. (Please ignore the Kansas national title pick.) Then, for some reason, I bailed on the Mountaineers when we reworked our picks after the tourney's first weekend and picked them to lose to Kentucky in the Elite Eight. To atone for my lack of faith, I will light my couch on fire when I return home from the Final Four.
WEST VIRGINIA 73, DUKE 71
Andy Glockner
Many will bill this as a classic Beauty and the Beast game, with the Blue Devils' sweet shooting offset by WVU's crash-and-dash offensive scheme. Duke's 22 offensive boards against robust Baylor, though, underlie the fact that the Devils are just about as proficient as WVU on the offensive glass, and significantly better in both main efficiency categories. My eyes say go with West Virginia. The numbers say Duke. I'm a numbers guy at heart (and a sucker for a title showdown between two of the game's best coaches).
DUKE 72, WEST VIRGINIA 66
Tim Layden
Both teams play textbook defense. With Duke, it's mostly the same man-to-man that Coach K has been running for nearly three decades. With West Virginia, it's usually man-to-man, but sometimes also a zone, like the 1-3-1 that took down Kentucky. On this night, expect neither team to create much highlight offense, but West Virginia has been winning ugly all year and they will do it again. Don't overstate the loss (or limitations) of Darryl "Truck" Bryant -- the Mountaineers have half a dozen players who can handle the rock on the perimeter.
WEST VIRGINIA 62, DUKE 61
George Dohrmann
West Virginia is on a role, but what Duke showed in its victory over Baylor is that it can play defense as good as any team, and that is has enough weapons in Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler to survive a bad night by one of them.
DUKE 73, WEST VIRGINIA 70
Joe Lemire
The ACC champ has what the Big East champ lacks: great interior size. Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and the brothers Plumlee (Mason and Miles) won't score much, but they should rack up a bunch of rebounds (their work on the offensive glass sank Baylor). Nolan Smith is one of the nation's most improved players, having turned himself into a marquee scorer who paced the Blue Devils when Kyle Singler failed to hit a field goal in the Elite Eight. That won't happen again, so unless West Virginia repeats its three-point magic, this one goes to the ACC.
DUKE 78, WEST VIRGINIA 73
 
 
SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.