Butler has been a great story throughout this tournament. They have beaten some high quality opponents in Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State. But they are facing a Duke team that is supremely confident, mentally tough and extremely accurate from three point range. I just don't see Nolan Smith, John Scheyer and Kyle Singler losing. Scheyer was five-of-nine from trifecta and finished with 23 points. Smith was four-of-nine and finished with 19 and Singler was three-of-five and finished with 21. The Blue Devils were 13-of-25 from trifecta, 52 percent. That's amazing, and this was against a very good West Virginia team, particularly defensively. Duke beat WVA by 21. That's convincing and impressive. They just look unstoppable.
Granted, Butler plays very good defense and gets turnovers, but even if they do, I don't think it'll be enough. They're going to have to shoot a lot better tonight and and play over their heads on defense. Duke is as good or maybe better on defense than Michigan State. Duke should control the boards, too, with Brian Zubek, the Plumlee brothers and Lance Thomas. Zubek is on a roll, He had 10 rebounds Saturday Night and is dominating the glass along finishing underneath on offense.
The only way Butler can win is if they shoot the ball really well from outside, go inside and get some scores getting Zubek in some foul trouble and deny the three for Duke. They're going to have to hang with Duke on the boards. They need to get to the line where they are good. They will have to keep Duke off the line, too, particularly the Big three who can stroke it from there.
Upsets happen. They happened in 1983 when NC State knocked off Phi Slamma Jamma, Clyde Drexler and Houston, and in 1985 when Villanova played about the perfect game and knocked off heavily favored Georgetown and Patrick Ewing in the championship game. Butler has proven they can do it, and there have been some major upsets throughout the tourney.
But I just don't see it happening tonight. Duke is an outstanding team and are playing with supreme confidence. Combine that with their superior shooting skills, their rebounding advantage and their equally tough defense and it looks like a fourth banner for the Blue Devils under Coach K.
Butler's been special this postseason and have a lot to be proud of. But Duke should win tonight. My heart's with Butler, but my head is telling me it's Duke.
Duke 68, Butler 54