National semifinal capsules

David Fox & Mike Huguenin, Yahoo! Sports
Yahoo! Sports

Here's a look at Saturday's national semifinal games at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Following a quick game breakdown are scouting reports on the teams involved. We asked head coaches and assistant coaches of previous opponents to share their thoughts and granted them anonymity to ensure more candid responses.


TIME: 6:07 p.m.
RECORDS: Butler 32-4, Michigan State 28-8
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Butler won the West Regional as the No. 5 seed; the Bulldogs beat No. 12 UTEP 77-59, beat No. 13 Murray State 54-52, beat No. 1 Syracuse 63-59 and beat No. 2 Kansas State 63-56. Michigan State won the Midwest Regional as the No. 5 seed; the Spartans beat No. 12 New Mexico State 70-67, beat No. 4 Maryland 85-83, beat No. 9 Northern Iowa 59-52 and beat No. 5 Tennessee 70-69.
FINAL FOUR HISTORY: This is Butler's first appearance in the Final Four. The Bulldogs never even had been to the Elite Eight before this season. Michigan State has won two national titles – in 1979 and 2000. This is the Spartans' eighth Final Four appearance; they were runner-up last season.
THE LINE: Butler by 1.
THE GAME: Butler has won 24 in a row and plays great defense. The Bulldogs do a nice job defending the perimeter and swarm when the opponent gets the ball into the paint. Their modus operandi on defense never changes: Hunker down and force opponents into bad shots. PG Ronald Nored is a superb on-ball defender, and undersized F Willie Veasley can be a pest to bigger opponents because of his quickness and surprising strength. Butler is undersized but doesn't give up many offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs outrebounded a physical Kansas State team by 12 in the regional final. While the Bulldogs are a grind-it-out team offensively, they can score in transition because this is a team with a lot of good ballhandlers. Michigan State is more athletic than Butler, and the Spartans play solid defense and crush foes on the boards. The Spartans haven't missed injured PG Kalin Lucas in the tournament, thanks to the solid play of Korie Lucious. But F Draymond Green might be their most important player. Green does everything well – pass, rebound, defend, shoot – though he rarely seems to get any attention. Junior G Durrell Summers has played at a high level in the tournament. After scoring 29 total points in the Spartans' final four regular-season games, he is averaging 20 points in the four NCAA games. Summers is shooting 68.1 percent from the field and a sizzling 53 percent from 3-point range.
NUMBERS GAME: There are a few to keep an eye on. Michigan State outrebounds opponents by 8.7 per game. But the Spartans turn it over 13.8 times per game, a number they've lowered during the tourney. Butler is forcing 15.8 turnovers per game during the tournament. Finally, Butler has allowed 70 points three times this season – and has lost all three games. Tempo is going to be vital for the Bulldogs, who can't afford to give up many transition baskets.


"They put four guys on the floor who can get double figures. They have inside-outside threats. We really wanted to attack the paint and attack them inside. Our goal was to get Matt Howard in foul trouble. We were able to do that, but they did such a good job defensively. We turned the ball over in the paint. They did a good job of making our players think and taking the ball away.

"When they go small and Howard is out of the game, [swingman Gordon] Hayward is just a tough matchup. They went small against us and we had to play five guards, something that we never had to do before just to match up with them.

"They're the best late-game defensive team I've played against, with switching and making all the right decisions. They're really good in late-game decisions both offensively and defensively. I was really impressed. Everything they do is so solid.

"Hayward has size and the ability to put it on the floor. And you've got to play the 3-point line when you guard him. You can't play him one way or another. You have a guard on him in the beginning of the game, and you end up putting a five-man on him late in the game. It makes it very difficult.

"What Howard does is he's a great post defender. He flops and takes charges and uses his body well. He mugs you without fouling. Shelvin Mack has an uncanny ability to score inside and outside. He has great size for a guard. His size is what hurt us. We did a good job on him, but Ronald Nored had a big game against us. We didn't anticipate that. We wanted to help off of him when we could. He made shots late in the shot clock. He made tough plays. Willie Veasley is an undersized forward and he makes the tough plays when they need to make them. He's a tough matchup because I don't think he made a '3' his first two years. This year, he's a threat at the 3-point line.

"They're so smart and their system has been in place for years; inexperience isn't a factor. They're Indiana and Kentucky kids. They have a special group."


"Even when [Kalin] Lucas was playing in the first game and a half, Raymar Morgan and Durrell Summers have been playing very well. That's been a huge part of their success. [Summers] is a phenomenal athlete and a skilled player who can make shots. He's playing at a high level right now and he's kind of put those players on his back.

"Korie Lucious has stepped up in playing the point guard role and playing extended minutes. He's got a history of making big shots, not just in this year's tournament but last year's. He steps up and makes big plays for them. [Draymond] Green comes off the bench and plays starter's minutes. He's really a catalyst for that team. He's kind of a point forward. He does a great job of making plays for himself. And there aren't many big guys in the country who have over 100 assists and 50 turnovers on the year. That speaks to his ability, but also the team running the offense through him.

"A lot of times, when your best player goes down, you have to change what you do. Coach [Tom] Izzo has done what he's done for a long time and been through a lot of players and done things the same way. They're going to play hard and run the basketball and push it hard in transition. In the halfcourt, they execute the heck out of it because they cut so hard and screen so well. Lucas is a huge part of what they did, but at the same time, those guys are so used to doing it that way and at a high level. They've been able to respond. They needed someone to step up, and it's been Summers.

"I don't think they're the deepest team. You're hoping to wear into them. We're pretty deep, so being able to wear into them was something we wanted to do. They really have only seven guys they consider playing a lot. They bring three guys off the bench who play sparingly. If you can wear into them and get their guys into foul trouble, I'd say that would be to your advantage. Trying to get their bigs out in space defensively – they're great help defenders, but they do it the same way every time. I thought we could take advantage of their bigs on the perimeter at times.

"Anytime you have a guy like Lucas who has the ball in his hands a lot, sometimes the other guys stand around and watch him make plays. Now they have other guys who step up. They don't have one guy they can go to, so I think everyone feels like they're more a part of the play. All of those guys – Summers, Morgan or [Chris] Allen – coming off screens, if they feel like they're open, they need to shoot it because they don't have that breakdown point guard if it gets to be late in the shot clock. Those other guys have to step up, and I think it's helped their offense a little bit."


TIME: 8:47 p.m.
RECORDS: Duke 34-5, West Virginia 31-6
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Duke won the South Regional as a No. 1 seed; the Blue Devils beat No. 16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 73-44, beat No. 8 California 68-53, beat No. 4 Purdue 70-57 and beat No. 3 Baylor 78-71. West Virginia won the East Regional as a No. 2 seed; the Mountaineers beat No. 15 Morgan State 77-50, beat No. 10 Missouri 68-59, beat No. 11 Washington 69-56 and beat No. 1 Kentucky 73-66.
FINAL FOUR HISTORY: Duke has won three national titles, in 1991, 1992 and 2001. This is the Blue Devils' 15th Final Four appearance, and they were runners-up in 1964, '78, '86, '90, '94 and '99. This is West Virginia's second appearance. The Mountaineers were the runner-up in 1959, when a Jerry West-led team lost by one to California.
THE LINE: Duke by 2.5.
THE GAME: Duke is the only No. 1 seed to make it through to the Final Four. The bulk of the Blue Devils' offense comes from the "big three" of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. Smith has been the one constant this tourney, as both Scheyer and Singler have struggled at times. All three can hit from beyond the arc and have nice mid-range games, and Smith also can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Scheyer is not a prototypical point man, but he has done a nice job in that role since being pressed into duty at the position last season. Senior 7-footer Brian Zoubek is not an offensive threat, but he is a highly productive rebounder and knows how to use his size to his advantage defensively. Duke needs a big game from senior F Lance Thomas on the boards. Swingman Da'Sean Butler is WVU's key offensive player; he has hit six game-winning shots this season and always seems to come up with a big play when needed. He is WVU's most prolific 3-point shooter. F Kevin Jones doesn't get enough notice, but he quietly goes about his business, seemingly scoring in double figures and grabbing seven or eight rebounds each game. He has some perimeter skills, meaning he can drag opposing big men away from the basket. With the injury to starting PG Darryl Bryant, the bulk of the ballhandling duties have fallen on Joe Mazzulla. He struggled offensively for most of the season but torched Kentucky for 17 points - his only game this season in double figures – in the regional final. He also hurt Duke with his play in the 2008 NCAA tournament. WVU can go seven-deep in the frontcourt, which enables the Mountaineers' big men to be as physical and aggressive as possible on defense. Look for Duke to try to force the pace. Duke can be lethal in transition, and WVU's size and physical nature could cause some problems for the Blue Devils' halfcourt offense.
NUMBERS GAME: West Virginia gets knocked by more than a few people for being a mediocre shooting team (heck, even coach Bob Huggins has commented on it), but it might surprise you to learn that Duke's shooting percentage is not that much better than WVU's (Duke is at 44.0 percent, WVU at 43.1 percent). West Virginia does a great job on the offensive boards (15.5 per game) and takes good care of the ball. Duke does a good job on the offensive boards (14.6 per game) and takes even better care of the ball than the Mountaineers. Duke also is much better from 3-point range and from the foul line than West Virginia. As for defense, while WVU gets a lot of notice for its defense, Duke's numbers are better across the board. Duke allows 61.1 points per game to WVU's 63.1. Duke allows opponents to shoot 40.2 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from 3-point range to WVU's 41.3 and 31.6.


"The biggest thing is when you look at their personnel. It doesn't matter if Jon Scheyer is 0-for-10 or 10-for-10 – he's going to shoot with confidence regardless of what he's doing in that particular game. He's such a confident player offensively. With him playing the point, he has great knowledge of the game to dissect things quickly to get the ball to the right players. He doesn't get rattled regardless of what he's doing shooting-wise or what he's doing defensively.

"Nolan Smith really exposed things defensively for us in our zone, really attacking the baseline, getting there off dribble-penetration and finding the gaps. What they have as a team is great balance. When you have a point guard and a two-guard who really complement each other, that's pretty good.

"[Kyle] Singler is a 6-foot-8 three-man. That's a tough thing to defend against - a guy with length and size who can shoot it. We didn't want him to get deep corner '3s.'

"[Brian] Zoubek worries you because he's one of the best offensive rebounders in the country. He does a great job of getting to the offensive glass, getting to the ball and getting tip outs. There were tip-out '3s' that really hurt us. It's not about his work on the block. He gets in there and gets offensive rebounds. Those second-chance points that are backbreakers are a big part of their offense.

"Their mindset makes them tough defensively. [Mike] Krzyzewski has those guys' intensity level at an unbelievable level for 40 minutes. They were so disciplined even when we were making a run. They don't get rattled. Their focus is unbelievable. There are teams whose intensity levels off depending on if they get the lead or if they're down. Their intensity level never changes.

"Our goals were to hold them to 35 percent shooting and not let the big three [Singler, Scheyer, Smith] beat us. We took one of them out, but it didn't matter."


"[Da'Sean Butler] is so versatile. Our guy did a good job on him. We tried to limit his touches. In their five-man motion [offense], they'll run 25 seconds off the clock if they don't get a quick one. They keep moving. Butler has won so many games and hit so many big shots. We kind of overplayed him and let someone else do it. When he has the ball, he can score from '3.' He can penetrate, and he hits the boards hard.

"Devin Ebanks is more about making plays off the dribble. He does a good job of catching on the perimeter, and he can either pull up or go all the way. If someone else shoots it, he's so long he can get his hands on those rebounds as well.

"[Kevin Jones] is that quiet guy. We knew about him. If you're there on the catch, he's not going to put it on the floor or anything, but you start worrying about Butler and Ebanks. In their motion, they keep moving and reversing the ball, and he can get a '3.' You forget about him and he keeps moving around. He's a good spot-up shooter.

"They don't have the true point guard/off-guard combo. Ebanks was bringing it up against us, which we liked. It helps them also because they switch off screens and they're all the same height. And they're long. They make it tough for you to score. [The guards] do have trouble scoring at times, but that second shot is part of their offense, too.

"Limiting them to one shot and then pushing the shot in transition [was our plan]. When we did that, we were successful, as well as pressuring them full court – we turned them over. You have to get them moving in their defense even in the halfcourt by reversing the ball. You have to play the right way to beat them."

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