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Final Four Recap

It’s Butler vs. Duke in an NCAA Tournament final that no one saw coming. Here’s a recap of how they got through the Final Four to make it there. The Bulldogs just won’t be put down. They got through No.1 Syracuse, shook off No. 2 Kansas State, and in the Final Four ended the run for No. 5 Michigan State. The Bulldogs were a 1.5-point favorite at Bovada against the shorthanded Spartans and covered the spread in a 52-50 win.

That victory also extended the Bulldogs’ lengthy winning streak to 25 games. As usual on Saturday night Gordon Hayward led the Bulldogs with 19 points and nine rebounds, and he also sunk the late basket that secured the victory. Shelvin Mack battled leg cramps to knock home 14 points, while Butler’s other notable names, Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley, struggled in the win. Nored went 0-for-4 from the floor and finished with five points, while Veasley shot 2-of-6 and had six points. If you want to know how improbable it is that Butler will be playing for a national title just look at their future odds from a few weeks ago. Before the first game of the tournament tipped off the Bulldogs were a +7500 longshot to go all the way. Now they’re one win away from making history.

The Blue Devils booked their ticket to another national championship game by pummeling West Virginia 78-57 as a 2.5-point favorite. That improved the Blue Devils’ perfect ATS tournament record to 5-0. Jon Scheyer led the way for Duke with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting, which included going 5-of-9 from three-point range. Kyle Singler made up for a horrible performance in the Elite Eight with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Nolan Smith added 19 points and six assists. Altogether the three Duke stars combined to score 63 of the Blue Devils’ 78 points, while shooting a stellar 23-of-45 from the floor and 12-for-23 from beyond the arc. Not a lot of experts predicted Duke would make it this far at the Big Dance, but it is nowhere near as big a surprise as the Bulldogs’ run. Duke began the tournament as a +800 underdog to add a fourth national championship banner to the rafters at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Bulldogs and Blue Devils met once before in January 2003.

That game was played at Duke and the Blue Devils cruised to an 80-60 win as 14-point favorites. In the David versus Goliath final on Monday night the Blue Devils are favored again, this time by 6.5 points at Bovada. Don’t immediately count out the Bulldogs in this battle. It’s not like they haven’t been here before, because they had this heavy underdog matchup twice already in the past two weeks. They’ll also be playing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, a few short miles from campus. The game tips off Monday night at 9:21 ET on CBS coast to coast. Look for a boatload of trends to be dropped at Bovada leading up to tipoff.