We'll get to tomorrow, but first, let's take a quick look back on Saturday's predictions and results. Basically, one out of two. Butler won a close, hard-fought game against Kansas State. I'll say this--Butler's defense has been underrated all season long. I'm assuming that it wasn't credited because they weren't playing the caliber of teams that they are now. But a few games in a row now, they've forced very good offensive teams look really bad, for at least 20 minutes.
The first half against Syracuse was one of the Orange's worst halves of the entire year. Kansas State experienced something similar in their first half today. I don't think that is coincidence. I think whoever wins tomorrow is going to have their hands full with Butler, in Indianapolis.
Kentucky vs West Virginia today was a essentially a flipped coin that Kentucky kept trying to get to land on its side. Stat of the game: 3 pointers. West Virginia hit 43%--(10-23) while Kentucky hit 12.5% (4-32). And here's the thing--Kentucky ain't a 3 point shooting team, and I think they knew that going in. What possessed Patrick Patterson to attempt four of them?
OK, on to tomorrow:
Tennessee vs. Michigan State--Two teams that are in the Elite 8 that are not supposed to be, but can hardly be unexpectedly--Michigan State always goes a little deeper than expected almost every year. Tennessee beat Kansas and Kentucky this year, but the weird seeding of the SEC Tournament led to an early exit there, and let's face it--they were up and down all year. But Wayne Chism is a legitimate all-over-the-floor threat, Scotty Hopson and Bobby Maze make a hell of a tandem in the backcourt.
Michigan State was in the final game last year, and for intents and purposes, they only thing they lost was Goran Suton. But they'll be without Kalin Lucas again. It didn't matter against Northern Iowa, but it might against an aggressive defensive team like Tennessee. Still--Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe, Durrell Summers--Michigan State is long, athletic and tough.
But, in the end, I'm taking the most complete team, and Tennessee has proven themselves to be that at this point. I'll take Tennessee winning by more than five, less than ten.
Baylor vs. Duke--Is there a tougher team in the tournament to predict than Duke? At times, they look unstoppable, and borderline incapable of missing a shot. Other times, they get straight-up run out of the gym. They are also partially responsible (along with Purdue) for one of the ugliest halves in the tournament so far. Meanwhile, Baylor has been getting better and better throughout this tournament. If Duke opens up the game the way they did against Purdue, they won't be in a close game--they'll be getting blown out.
Duke has a trio of players that they need to be hot to win, and when they are hot, the team is as good as anyone--whiny Danny Ainge type Jon Scheyer, Zombie Kyle Singler, and boring old Nolan Smith. They get some production from the Plumlee brothers and Lance Thomas, but only in a secondary role. If they are forced to rely on points in the paint, they are screwed.
For a team that finished 2nd in the tough, Big 12, Baylor has got some great players that are just getting noticed now--Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn run the backcourt. They've also got some great forwards with athletic Quincy Acy and long armed interior finisher Ekpe Udoh.
I'm going with the hotter team, and frankly, the team I'm rooting for and the team I've got some money riding on--I'm going Baylor, and I'm going Baylor big. I say they win by more than 10.