In the opener, Butler is going to have homecourt and the two best players on the floor in Gordon Heyward and Shelvin Mack. Were it not for the fact Tom Izzo is patrolling the other sideline, I wouldn't have even thought twice about it. Izzo's presence means Michigan State will find a way to bring this one down to the wire, just as their games against Maryland and Tennessee were. But you can only go to the well so many times before the ball bounces the other way, and I see it bouncing Michigan State out and Butler into an improbable appearance on Monday night.
The nightcap shapes up as closely contested, but I don't have much doubt in taking Duke. I respect West Virginia's ability to defend, and their size and wingspans could create problems for the Blue Devils shooters. They also have the ability to rebound from every spot on the floor. These facts alone mean they will be a tough team to beat. But Duke's backcourt combines both explosiveness and efficiency, Kyle Singler can take a game over and Brian Zoubek gives the Devils someone to bang down low. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if WVA wins this one, but I wouldn't predict it either. Duke's too complete. And as much as I respect Bob Huggins, having Coach K pull the strings down the stretch only give Duke an added edge.
The Baseball Notebook completes its divisional previews later this afternoon with the AL West. And we'll see you back here tomorrow to recap today's games.