April 2nd, 2010
12:07 PM ET

Sports Update: Breaking down the Final Four

Five SI.com experts are picking Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans to miss the championship game by losing to Butler in the Final Four.

To get you in the mood for Saturday’s Final Four games, SI.com tracked down assistant coaches from former opponents of each Final Four team, and asked them to share intel from their scouting reports. The NCAA Tournament semifinals highlight a busy weekend in sports. The highlights (all times Eastern):

-Chelsea at Manchester United (Saturday, 7:30 am, ESPN2)

The Premier League heavyweights meet Saturday at Old Trafford without a familiar face: Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is out up to four weeks out after suffering minor ligament damage to his ankle. The news is much better at Chelsea, who have scored 12 goals in its last two games and now sit a point behind United at the top of the table. Chelsea star Dider Drogba, who sat out last weekend's 7-1 win over Aston Villa with a knee problem, has been declared fit for the game. Bad news for United.

-Butler vs. Michigan State (Saturday, 6:07 p.m, CBS)
With its campus just six miles from Lucas Oil Stadium and its underdog status amid the traditional basketball powers, Butler will be the choice of those without a rooting interest. “I really like the Bulldogs' poise and their belief in themselves,” says SI.com’s Seth Davis. “Syracuse and Kansas State took the lead against Butler late in the game, but the Bulldogs never panicked. They never get away from what they do well. No matter who they play, they always seem to control the pace. Butler is a very tough-minded team. Gordon Hayward is a dynamic player and a very difficult matchup. Defensively, they force a bunch of turnovers without really pressing, which is difficult to do.” Plenty of people have declared Michigan State’s Tom Izzo as the best coach in college basketball, including SI.com’s Andy Glockner. It should be a terrific game.

-Duke vs. West Virginia (40 minutes after end of Butler-Michigan State)
Those lovable Blue Devils are led by the Big Three of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. “I don't know if I've ever seen a Duke team rebound this well,” says Davis. “Getting 23 offensive rebounds against Baylor's gigantic front line ... that's just ridiculous. That type of rebounding will allow Duke to overcome bad shooting games.”  Like every Bob Huggins team, West Virginia is a terror on defense. “This is a common characteristic for all four of these teams, but the Mountaineers in particular really clamp down in the halfcourt and pound you on the glass,” says Davis. “Also, I think West Virginia will have the best player in the Final Four in Da'Sean Butler. He does so many different things well, and he's just a winner.”


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SI basketball experts picking Butler to defeat Michigan State out of the eight polled.

NIT titles for Dayton – including its first since 1968 – after its 79-68 victory over North Carolina last night in New York City.

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