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Snap Judgment Final Four Preview

Duke (78-71 over Baylor) and Michigan State (70-69 over Tennessee) prevailed on Sunday in two hard-fought contests, settling the 2010 Final Four in Indianapolis. The national semifinals will pit two five seeds, Michigan State and Butler, against each other on one side and two powerhouses, Duke and West Virginia, on the other. A couple thoughts on these match-ups:

- Both semis involve one team with huge recent tournament success against a program entering virtually uncharted territory. Tom Izzo and MSU have made the Final Four an incredible six times in the last 12 years, while Butler makes its first such appearance. And the Dukies who thought the six-year wait between Blue Devils' most recent Final Four berths was an eternity should consult long-suffering Mountaineers faithful, whose program is back on this stage for the first time since 1959, when The Logo suited up for WVU.

- For all the attention given the Bulldogs playing only seven miles from its Indianapolis campus, keep in mind that Butler has under 4,000 undergrads and little long-term basketball tradition. Its home-court advantage, if any, will be significantly less than what basketball pundits will lead you to believe. Michigan State and West Virginia are huge schools whose fans travel well, and Duke has a national fan base that will represent it well in Indy.

- So much for the "talent wins championships" credo - at least for this year. The best NBA prospects on the Final Four rosters are mostly future late-first or early second round picks: Gordon Hayward of Butler, Durrell Summers of MSU, Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler of WVU, and Kyle Singler and Mason Plumlee of Duke (though the latter two are unlikely to declare for the 2010 draft).

I'll leave the actual game-by-game analysis for the so-called experts. They'll provide plenty of it between now and Saturday, and remember: judging by the near-unanimous percentage of them who picked either Kansas or Kentucky to win it all, they're not always right.

-Michael Garcia

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