#1 Duke Blue Devils
#5 Butler Bulldogs
Vegas Odds: Duke -7 Bet on bodog
Why Watch? George Lucas couldn't have come up with a better Star Wars plot then Monday night's national championship. The Evil Empire faces Hoosiers.
How Duke Got Here: Duke 78 - West Virginia 57
How Butler Got Here: Butler 52 - Michigan St 50
Lineup Comparison: Grading Duke vs Butler
Why Butler Will Win: Having won 25 straight games, including 3 in a row over Top 20 teams, the real question is why would anyone think Butler would actually lose? The Bulldogs entered the tournament with a Top 20 ranked defense, but have taken their smothering ways to a whole new level in wins over Syracuse, Kansas St, and Michigan St. They were able to control the tempo against high-octane Syracuse and will once again be able to impose their will on the Blue Devils.
Bulldog to Watch: C Matt Howard - 12 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg
Butler will find a way to slow Duke's big 3, but it might be big Brian Zoubeck that causes the most problems for Butler. Even at 100%, Matt Howard hasn't been terribly impressive all season and it seems like he's been picking up more fouls then points in the NCAA Tournament. Its not enough for Howard to simply play in the game, he'll need to play twice as good as he's played since the Horizon League tournament.
Why Duke Will Win: Unlike highly ranked Syracuse & Kansas St, Duke will not have much of a problem playing at Butler's tempo. They're only 246th in tempo, so they'll be undaunted by however much slop Butler throws at them. Because of the 3 ball, Duke can handle the zone, and because of Zoubeck in the middle, they should be able to muster up some extra-chance points, which come in extra-handy against Butler. All you need to know is that Duke is ranked 1st in offense and 3rd in defense in the country.
Blue Devil to Watch: F Kyle Singler - 18 ppg, 7 rpg, 2 apg
Coming off a dismal effort against Baylor, Singler was clutch against West Virginia with 21 points, 9 boards, and 5 assists. Singler doesn't need to outdo Gordon Hayward, he simply needs to match the sophomore's output, and the rest of the Blue Devils will take care of business.
How It Will Go Down:
Brad Stevens has found a way to shut-down every opponent they've faced, so don't expect Duke to run away with a blow out win like some suggest. Still, Duke is substantially better then Michigan St, and the Bulldogs barely survived that game.
Betting Pick: Duke -7
Real Pick: Duke