RTC will break down the Final Four games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses. Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds. Here are Saturday evening’s national semifinals…aka…THE FINAL FOUR!
6:07 pm – #5 Michigan State vs. #5 Butler The winner of this game will have a built-in motivational mechanism, since this game is popularly considered the “Who will lose to West Virginia or Duke on Monday?” game. Best be careful, because as we know, there’s almost no better way to get your guys ready to play than to tell them that it’s them against the world. That nobody respects them. That everyone expects them to lose and lose big. In the case of Butler, I know I wouldn’t want to face a team playing in their home city and with that motivational tool. A lot is being made of the home crowd advantage that Butler supposed to enjoy this weekend, but I ask you: because people love the storyline of a mid-major getting to the Final Four, in what city could you play this thing where Butler wouldn’t have most of the fans in the arena rooting for them? I’ll tell you — East Lansing, Durham, and Morgantown (or anywhere else in West Virginia). Well, we’re not in any of those towns. Let me just add this…walking around this downtown area, I see mostly Butler fans, which is understandable. But it’s not like the Duke, Michigan State, and West Virginia fans stayed home. It’s Lucas Oil Stadium, people. It seats over 70,000 (it must, to qualify to host this thing). The freakin’ Colts play here. The Butler cheers might be loud, but the other squads will have their supporters, too. As to what’s going to happen on the floor, watch the boards. This will be a rebounding battle for the ages, because it’s the biggest disparity between the two teams. It’s not something Butler does particularly well, and it’s Michigan State’s greatest strength. Brad Stevens knows his boys have to swarm the glass to have a chance. They’ve done everything else he’s asked of them in each tournament game, not to mention the rest of the season, and I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll see them turn in their biggest effort on the boards this whole year on Saturday evening. Can Butler do it but still stay out of foul trouble?