The Butler Bulldogs Come Home; or Tom Izzo is as Constant as the Northern Star (When it comes to the Tournament); or Duke’s Back; or Is it Huggins’ Time? Either of these headlines would work when describing this year’s Final Four teams. To say this was an unexpected group is an understatement.
A lot of people expected Duke — the only number one seed to make it this far — to get beat in the earlier rounds by teams like Louisville or Baylor, while Butler is still shedding its “mid-major” label. West Virginia looks legitimate, but their lack of offensive pop — they’ve notoriously struggled to score in both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments — makes their appearance a little surprising. As for Michigan State, even with Tom Izzo as coach, the fact the Spartans lost their best player in Kalin Lucas to a hamstring injury makes them a surprise team as well.
Considering these teams, the hype surrounding the 2010 Final Four may not be as big as previous seasons, but don’t tell any of the attending teams that. I seriously doubt Duke or Butler care about whether or not they were popular picks. Furthermore, I also doubt any of Bob Huggins’ players doubt they belong, strictly because of how clutch the Mountaineers have been, not to mention how good they’ve been defensively. As for Michigan State, well, they have Tom Izzo, and that alone makes them a threat for a deep tournament run, whether non-Spartans fans are tired of seeing them there or not.
This is your Final Four, and while they may not be the most popular teams out there, each and every one of them deserve to be there. Nothing was handed to any of the teams. They all had to earn their trip, something the average victory margin of 5.5 points for all of the Elite Eight games indicates nicely.
With all that in mind, who ya got?
Are you siding with Butler and their awesome story, or do you want to see Izzo win his second title? Can Duke solve West Virginia’s stifling 1-3-1 zone or will Duke take advantage of any Mountaineers scoring droughts? These are just some of the stories to pay attention to as we get ready for another weekend of tournament basketball.