Duke, West Virginia, Michigan State, Butler Headed to Final Four

  • March 29, 2010, 3:16 PM


HOUSTON (AP) -- Mike Krzyzewski insisted all along the drought didn't bother him.

Sure, he hadn't been to a Final Four since 2004. But there was no need to put extra pressure on this Duke team just because the last five fell short.

Hey, Coach K, look who's chasing another national championship.

Duke restored some order to a topsy-turvy NCAA tournament on Sunday, getting a career-high 29 points from Nolan Smith in a 78-71 victory over Baylor that put Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils back in college basketball's biggest event.

''It's not about the moments that I've been in, it's the moments that your players put you in right now,'' Krzyzewski said. ''I'm really happy for this group. ... It's as close a team as I've had. You want great things to happen for people who are great with us.''

Jon Scheyer added five 3-pointers and scored 20 for Duke, ending Baylor's run to redemption in the South Regional final. The Blue Devils became the only No. 1 seed to advance to Indianapolis and earned their 11th Final Four berth under Krzyzewski.

''I don't know if it's a relief, but it's nice that no one can say anymore that we haven't been to a Final Four in so many years,'' Kyle Singler said.

Now, Singler and his teammates get the chance at a championship that every player who goes through the program expects to have.

''I don't know that it's fully hit me,'' said Scheyer, one of the three Duke seniors. ''I'm sure after the year I'll have a better appreciation. But right now, I'm just ecstatic.''



ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The players come and go, the years pass. About the only thing that doesn't change is Tom Izzo and Michigan State's mastery in March.

The fifth-seeded Spartans are on their way to their second straight Final Four and sixth in 12 years after Raymar Morgan 's free throw with less than 2 seconds left lifted Michigan State to a 70-69 victory over Tennessee in the Midwest Regional final Sunday.

''There is nothing greater than going to a Final Four that I know of,'' Izzo said, ''except winning it.''

No team in the country - not North Carolina, not Kansas, not UCLA, not Kentucky - has been better during the Spartans' run. And all six of those trips have come under Izzo, the hard-nosed coach who preaches defense, rebounding, defense, physical play, and have we mentioned defense?

Izzo, who took over from longtime mentor Jud Heathcote for the 1995-96 season, is 6-1 in the regional finals. His only loss was to top-seeded Texas in 2003.

''Tom Izzo does his best in the NCAA tournament,'' said Magic Johnson, who sat in the Michigan State cheering section and embraced Izzo after the game. ''He loves the big moment. He understands what he needs to do against every team. He comes up with a great game plan every single time. He deserves all the credit in the world.''

The Spartans, last year's national runner-up, will be looking for championship No. 3 next weekend in Indianapolis. They play Butler, also a No. 5 seed and sure to be the hometown favorite, in the semifinals Saturday night.

''They're hot right now. They're playing some of their best basketball,'' Morgan said. ''But we're also hot right now. We're playing some of our best basketball.''



SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Da'Sean Butler and the Mountaineers are off to the Final Four for the first time since 1959.

Joe Mazzulla scored a career-high 17 points in his first start this season and West Virginia handled a cold-shooting Kentucky team stocked with future NBA players almost from the opening tip for a 73-66 victory in the East Regional final Saturday night.

''It's something we've been preaching,'' Butler said. ''Not even just two more. Ever since we won our first game. Five more, four more, three more. It doesn't mean anything unless you win the whole thing.''

Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, back with his alma mater, is in the Final Four for the first time since taking Cincinnati in 1992. It's an even longer stretch for West Virginia - Jerry West was the star of the team 51 years ago, and not yet a Hall of Famer or NBA logo.

''The first day I was here, I told them I came back to win a national championship,'' Huggins said. ''I came back to win it for the university, having played there, and for the great people of our state.''

For freshman sensation John Wall and the young Wildcats (35-3), a scintillating season ended with a clang.

They were awful from 3-point range, missing their first 20 attempts and finishing a stunning 4 of 32 (12.5 percent). DeAndre Liggins finally hit a 3 with 3:29 left to end the drought, but by then it was too late.

West Virginia went the other way, making eight 3s in the first half without a 2-point basket.



SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Every day they walk into practice, they also walk onto a movie set - the one where they filmed the story about the little team that gets its big chance and lives out the unthinkable dream.

That's the story of ''Hoosiers.''

That's also the story of Butler - the team that's reminding everyone that big schools with big money don't have a monopoly on everything in big-time sports.

Yes, the boys from Butler did it - getting 22 points from Gordon Hayward to defeat Kansas State 63-56 in the West Regional final Saturday and advance to the Final Four.

Next, the Bulldogs take their 24-game winning streak to downtown Indy. Though only five miles from the Butler campus, it's hard to think of many programs that have taken a longer, more unlikely road to get this close to a championship.

''It'd be just as cool if we moved it to Hinkle,'' Butler coach Brad Stevens said of his team's fieldhouse. ''I'd be all for that.''

No such luck. Still, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (32-4) are writing their own underdog story, even if they can't really be called underdogs anymore.

Shelvin Mack scored 16 and Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley keyed an in-your-face defensive effort on K-State guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente to help Butler become the first school from a true, mid-major conference to make the Final Four since George Mason in 2006 - a trip that also ended in Indianapolis.

''This is probably the coolest thing that's ever happened in my life,'' Nored said.

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hey MSU will win it all!! the spartans are beast and bob huggins is going down when they loose aganst duke. it will be duke and state face to face and state will whoop there fat ugly butts!!!! and the big ten needs it bad dont cha think?

My bracket is killing! 3 out of my 4 picks in the Final Four were right.

I still can't believe Kansas, Syracuse, and kentucky
didn't make it to the final four!!!!!!!!!!

I'm ranked 28th in the country for a round by round bracket out of about 9,775, but nationally for this I'm ranked about 328 out of 110,000 or so. Amazing isn't it?

I really don't think you r that good! u r probably 9,028 in the country and 109,999 in the nation!

Michigan State will win.

WV will win.

BigOrange10 or Wiz where are you?

I hope Duke wins. Jon Scheyer is awesome!!!!!! Go Kyle Singler!
How did Butler make it? The're OK, but not that good.

my bracket has duke winning it all... but i would like 2 see WV win

i say duke wins

I have a blog!

It's awesome!

I be texas fan. me bracket is like the stone age. It was through with a LLLLLOOOOONNNNGGG time ago. :)

thats funny! its good ur willing to admit it! :D

i know!!! so annoying!

I hope Micigan State wins it all! The Big Ten really needs it. I REALLY hope West Virginia doesn't win because they have a loud mouth coach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i meant major lucky. SORRY! i dont no wat i wuz thinking!!!?

u r right 2 magic.

ElephantLizard i am right with you. I HATE West Virginia even though i live in WV. I route for Marshall. I hate Duke, But I hate WVU even more. And I also hope mich. st. wins it all. I picked Ken. In my bracket:[

You are right Elephant.

West virgina was my champ and can you believe michigan state 6 out of the past 12 years they've been in the final 4

I actually had Butler beating Syracuse. I had Kentucky winning it all though.

ya i no duke is the best

I had only 1 out of the Final Four, and that was Duke. I picked all the #1 seeds so I picked them, Kansas, [ My national champions who stunk it up against UNI] Syracuse, and Kentucky. That Kansas game wrecked everyone's brackets, didn't it.

I had Siena, West Virginia, Kansas, and Kansas State in the final four. I think WVU will beat Duke (sadly) and Butler will beat Michigan State. My champion: WEST VIRGINIA

I NEED WV to win

Picking all #1 seeds was a mistake... Sorry. My final 4 was OHIO STATE, SYRACUSE, WV, and DUKE. so 2 of my teams are still in it... i figurd that i made a mistake picking Cuse 2 the final 4

not MINE!!!! (mwha ha ha ha... just kidding.) i had (and still have) duke winning the national championship and I NEED THEM TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

not really, I didn't even have Kansas in the Elite Eight. why would you have all the #1s? not much strategic thinking.

Duke is the best team left,but i think West Virgina wants it more than they do. It will be a good game, but in the end i think intensity and passion will be the difference. West Virgina has more intensity and passion than Duke does. Michigan State should win rather easially against Butler. Butler made a good run, but coaching expierience and strength will be the difference maker in that. Michigan State has the advantage in those categories. West virginia should handle Michigan State pretty well. West Virginia is my pick to win it all right now.

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