The College Basketball Notebook

March 28, 2010 8:03 PM

The Veterans Take Over

The Final Four field was completed as the veteran coaches stood up and took center stage. Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans pulled out a 70-69 win on a free throw with 1.8 seconds left to capture the Midwest Regional. It’s Izzo’s sixth Final Four, all coming since 1999 and his second straight. And the master himself, Coach K, led Duke into the game’s showcase event for the 11th time in his illustrious career with a 72-64 over Baylor.

Michigan State-Tennessee sounds like a matchup as likely to occur in the Capital One Bowl as in the regional finals, and it was evenly played throughout. No real area stood out as a clear advantage for anybody, and it really was as simple as a great basketball game that just come down to who could make one more play than the other guy. Durrell Summers made more plays than most with 21 points, and the Spartans did a nice job keeping the Vols off the boards. After two straight games of both Wayne Chism and Brian Williams grabbing double-digit rebounds, they only combined for 12 on this day.

The dividing line between Duke and Baylor was…well, the line. The Blue Devils enjoyed a big edge at the foul line, getting 23 points from the stripe while the Bears only got 19 attempts (converting 12). And the Devils lit up from behind the three-point arc, going 11-of-23, while Baylor clanged the rims to the tune of 5-for-18. The Dookie backcourt of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith turned in an exquisite performance, combining for 49 points and outplaying Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn to make the difference.

So we’re set. Butler-Michigan State in one semi, Duke-West Virginia in the other. The Notebook will be here each day during Final Four week. Tomorrow we’ll set the historical stage with a look at the five previous times this event has come to Indianapolis. Tuesday through Friday will offer a look at the road each team traveled to get here. And Saturday will be my picks on who will win Saturday, selections that the record says should be faded immediately. Next week is also the buildup to Opening Night on The Baseball Notebook and there will be final predictions for each division throughout the week. Whether it’s the ending of college basketball or the beginning of baseball, the Notebook Family is on the scene.

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