Saturday @ 6:07 PM
The Michigan State Spartans lucked out when Northern Iowa upset Kansas and the Spartans got what many considered a easy berth to the Sweet 16. Don’t tell Michigan State that though, who had a daunting task of beating the Maryland Terrapins (they won 85-83) in round two and the Elite Eight back and forth victory over the Vols. At the start of the year, the Spartans were expected to be a power house (ranked #2 by Sports Illustrated) and were a favourite to contend for the national title. But things changed quickly when Michigan State lost to Florida, North Carolina and Texas to start the season of 9-3. They finished off the season ranked 12th in the nation and were placed into the MidWest Bracket as a number five seed. Many thought the Spartans were done with a stacked bracket with teams Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland and Tennessee but when the Hoyas and JayHawks made early exits and the Spartans beat Maryland, the 1st, 3rd and 4th ranked seeds were gone and things opened up for Michigan State. Unfortunately their leading scoring Kalin Lucas went down mid-way into the tourney and won’t return as he needs surgery and is only staying with the team to support them. In his absences Corie Lucious has stepped up into Lucas’s position and filled it to perfection, while Raymar Morgan and Durrell Summers have done their job in picking up the slack as well. If the Spartans want to continue on and face off for the national championship Monday night, they’ll need to first get past Butler and to do so, will have to play the best game they have all year… without Lucas, that’ll be tough.
The Butler Bulldogs are going home! Most of the time when a team goes home during the NCAA Tournament, it means they’ve been eliminated and players are starting put their focus on their schooling, next years basketball season or their future outside of university. The Bulldogs are only focused on one thing… and thats basketball. When the ball tips off on Saturday, Butler will be a stones-throw, just five miles away from the Indianapolis campus. The thousands of fans that Butler is going to have packed into the arena will be like nothing you’ve seen during March Madness and should give the Bulldogs an advantage that is undeniable. Something else that is undeniable is that these Bulldogs are playing the hottest basketball in the nation. It’s not just the fact that they knocked off Syracuse (63-59) and Kansas State (63-56), it’s that the last time they lost you hadn’t opened your gat-damn Christmas presents yet. Yeah, that’s right, back on December 22nd, 2009, over three months ago and 25 games, Butler lost to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Since then, the Bulldogs have rallied as a team and won twenty-four straight games and the fact they reign from the Horizon Conference shouldn’t be of any concern (rival teams of Wright State, Green Bay and Milwaukee). They have proved over the course of the 2009-10′ season that they are a huge contender regardless of who they play and in doing so, refuse to play any style of basketball but their own. Gordon Hayward is one of the best players in the nation (and he’s white), and when paired up with Shelvin Mack (who had his coming out party against K-State), the two can lead the team while involving Matt Howard and Willie Veasley down in the paint. The NCAA tournament is a guards tournament and if Gordon and Mack continue to shine, the Bulldogs will be extremely hard to stop… especially being five miles from their campus.
TheCoach’s Pick – Butler Bulldogs
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