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NCAA tournament preview: Saturday’s Final Four games

Butler (32-4) vs. Michigan State (28-8): The Spartans have the experience — Michigan State lost in the national title game last season — but injuries have whittled away their depth. That could be an issue if Butler continues to play the swarming type of defense that brought it this far. Michigan State is the nation’s top rebounding team and Butler is a bit undersized, but the Bulldogs don’t often get beaten on the boards. Guard Durrell Summers is averaging 20 points in the tournament for Michigan State and Korie Lucious has been a more than adequate replacement for injured point guard Kalin Lucas. For Butler, which has a 24-game winning streak, the players to watch are swingman Gordon Hayward and guard Shelvin Mack.

Duke (34-5) vs. West Virginia (31-6): The only other time West Virginia appeared in the Final Four, the Jerry West-led Mountaineers lost to California by one in the championship game. West Virginia’s new Mr. Clutch is swingman Da’Sean Butler, who has six game-winning shots this season. The play of Joe Mazzulla at point guard also will be important. He’s filling in for the injured Darryl Bryant, and had 17 points against Kentucky — his first game scoring in double digits this season. Duke is paced by guards Noland Smith and Jon Scheyer and swingman Kyle Singler. The Blue Devils also have physical 7-foot senior Brian Zoubek in the middle, but West Virginia counters with seven-deep depth in the frontcourt.

— Mike Hiserman


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