Final Four – West Virginia vs. Duke
Duke has rumbled through the NCAA Tournament so far, bowling over ever team standing in their way. It won’t be as easy versus West Virginia in the Final Four. The Blue Devils have been pretty dominant while making their way to the Final Four. Their closest game was their seven-point Elite Eight win over Baylor, 78-71. They were a 5-point favorite at Bovada and after covering the spread improved to a perfect 4-0 ATS in the tournament. Maybe we should have seen that coming after Duke posted a money-making 22-13-2 mark ATS during the regular season.
In Duke’s win over Baylor, Nolan Smith delivered a career high 29 points while shooting 9-of-17 and a deadly 4-of-6 from three-point range. Jon Scheyer also had a solid game with 20 points, which included shooting 5-of-10 from behind the arc. The only real bad news for Duke in the win was the play of Kyle Singler. After dropping 24 points on Purdue in the Sweet 16 Singler’s shot disappeared against Baylor, as he went 0-for-10 in the win. The Mountaineers have one win over a No. 1 seed under their belt after taking care of Kentucky in the Elite Eight. West Virginia upset the Wildcats 73-66 as a 4-point underdog to advance to their first Final Four since 1959. West Virginia played their game to perfection against Kentucky, using their pressure defense to force the Wildcats into taking bad shots. The proof is in Kentucky’s lousy shooting numbers. The Wildcats shot only 34% and they were completely dreadful from three-point range, hitting 4-of-32. Mountaineers star Da’Sean Butler matched that all by himself by shooting 4-of-8 from behind the arc. He finished with a team-high 18 points and Joe Mazzulla deposited 17 points.
Mazzulla has played well in the tournament starting in place of Darryl Bryant, who’s been sidelined by a broken foot since before the Elite Eight. There was hope that some new supportive footwear would allow Bryant to return this weekend, but that’s looking doubtful after he was still unable to practice this week. The Blue Devils and Mountaineers have met in the tournament before in the second round in 2008. Duke was a 4-point favorite in the game, but the Mountaineers delivered an upset with a 73-67 win. In Saturday’s rematch the Blue Devils are the favorite again, but this time by only 2.5 points.