All the talk of expanding the NCAA tournament field to 96 should cease.
This year’s version of March Madness proved what I already knew, the NCAA tournament is the greatest playoff in all of sports.
Name another playoff system where upsets are so prevalent. Name another playoff system that has so many close, nail-biting finishes. Name another playoff system that consumes the lives of sports fans for three weeks.
What other sport has mid-majors like Northern Iowa and St. Mary’s upset two of the country’s best teams on their way to the Sweet 16?
This year’s NCAA tournament lived up to all the hype and then some. It may be the greatest NCAA tournament ever and it’s not even over yet.
Tomorrow night in Indianapolis, the teams in the Final Four will battle it out to see who can earn the right to be called the 2010 National Champions.
The Final Four has a little bit of everything.
Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans, after another solid but unspectacular year, find themselves in familiar territory.
Izzo has led Michigan State to the Final Four five times since 1999, the most by any program.
There is not a better coach in America than Tom Izzo. I’m pretty sure he could take four of my friends and I and get us to at least the Elite Eight. I have learned to never rule out an Izzo-coached team.
Facing Michigan State is the Cinderella of this year’s tournament. Butler will travel just six miles on Saturday night from its campus to the site of the Final Four, Lucas Oil Stadium.
Butler is the first team since UCLA in 1968 to play for a National Championship in its own city.
The Butler-Michigan State match-up is one of experience vs. inexperience. Last season, Michigan State beat UConn in the Final Four before losing to North Carolina in the National Championship game. Michigan State players have experienced what playing in the Final Four is like.
On the flip side, Butler has never been to a Final Four. Butler coach Brad Stevens, only 33 years old, is as inexperienced as his team that starts three sophomores and a junior.
In the other game Saturday night the Duke Blue Devils and West Virginia Mountaineers will square off.
Duke is the New York Yankees of college basketball. You either love them or you hate them.
Duke is appearing in the Final Four for the first time in five years. By Mike Krzyzewski and Duke standards, that is a lifetime.
West Virginia is the last standing of eight Big East teams that made the tournament. The Mountaineers took down the overall favorite in Kentucky in the Elite Eight and will have to beat another number one seed in Duke.
West Virginia is playing in its first Final Four since 1959.
Duke and West Virginia both pride themselves on defense, but offensively they have contrasting styles. Duke plays more of a half court game while West Virginia likes to use its defense to create fast breaks and get easy baskets. The team that makes the other play its style will be victorious.
I will not be surprised to see any of these four teams cut down the nets on Monday night.
Michigan State has a host of experience and a big time coach.
Butler will have the home crowd behind them and have proven that they are no slouch in upsets of Syracuse and Kansas State.
Duke plays smothering defense and has enough offense and experience.
West Virginia plays tough defense and has more athleticism than any team left in the tournament.
I think Butler’s Cinderella run will continue against Michigan State. Michigan State will miss their injured point guard Kalin Lucas against Butler’s pressure defense.
Duke should beat West Virginia easily in the other semi-final. While West Virginia plays good defense they often play out of control offensively. Duke will force them to turn over the ball.
That would create a Butler-Duke National Championship. While I’d really like to believe Butler can upset Duke, they are too good. Duke will be the 2010 National Champions.
Alex Ross is a sports communication major from Fishers, Ind. He is the assistant sports editor.
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