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DUKE - BUTLER
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The NCAA Tournament began with 65 teams. After weeks full of epic battles on the court two teams have emerged from the fog. Those two teams are the Butler Bulldogs of the Horizon League and the Duke Blue Devils from the Atlantic Coast Conference. One will exit the court as the 2010 National Champion on Monday night. This game will be something of a ďDavid vs GoliathĒ. Duke has won the National Championship and made many Final Four appearances. This year marks the first time that Butler has made the Final Four of the National Championship game. It could be their first win in that game if they play their cards right.
The Butler Bulldogs own the longest win streak in the NCAA at 25 games. They were undefeated in conference play this year. Granted they played in a week conference, that is still a great accomplishment. The Bulldogs enter this game after a narrow victory over the Michigan State Spartans and Tom Izzo. Star F Matt Howard endured a mild concussion in that game and will be a game time decision. Needless to say, Butlerís chances will go way down if he canít play. The Bulldogs also defeated Syracuse, and Kansas State in this yearís Big Dance. They can run with anyone and sure as hell wonít be intimidated by the big name of the Duke Blue Devils.
Swingman Gordon Hayward steadied the Bulldogs in the absence of Howard. The sophomore racked up 19 points and 9 rebounds against the Spartans. Shelvin Mack was also tough with 14 points, 2 assists, and a steal. Willie Veasley didnít do much scoring, but he had 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Hayward, Mack, and Veasley are all very good players. Hayward is almost guaranteed to go in the first round of the NBA Draft if he declares this year. However, if Howard doesnít play they might themselves in a gun with only a knife. It appears that he will make it, but he is a game time decision at this point.
Love them or hate them, one thing is certain about the Duke Blue Devils; they are VERY good. They are stocked so deep with talent that one of their best players can have a bad night and they will still win because another guy stepped up to the plate. Senior Nolan Smith went nuts against West Virginia. He drained multiple three pointers and ended the night with 19 points. Fellow senior Jon Scheyer did even better picking up 23 points and 6 assists. Junior Kyle Singler played well after an 0-10 shooting performance against Baylor. This time he had 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting. Bryan Zoubek picked up 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils.
The Duke Blue Devils find themselves in the National Championship game after dismissing Purdue, Baylor, and West Virginia. The Butler Bulldogs will be a better challenge for them than any of those three teams. With multiple scoring threats and strong defense the Blue Devils are likely up to the task. Coach Krzyzewski has been in this position before and came out on the good side of things. He will have to use his knowledge and prior experience to guide his talented team.
Las Vegas currently favors the Duke Blue Devils as a seven point favorite. Wagering on this game will be contingent on the health of Butler F Matt Howard. The game will be completely different without him. Be sure to monitor his status before making a wager. If he does play then Butler will give the Blue Devils a game. If not then they could be like a cow headed to slaughter. For the sake of excitement we hope itís the former rather than the latter that occurs. But Duke has beaten better teams than Butler all year by double digits. Duke likely pulls away late in this one but look for Butler to give one heck of a battle for most of the game.