Posts Tagged ‘Duke Blue Devils’

Elite Eight Keys to the Game – Duke vs. Louisville 3/31/13

March 31st, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Elite Eight Keys to the Game – Duke vs. Louisville 3/31/13
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Louisville vs. DukeThe Duke Blue Devils have literally been going through a Murderer’s Row of teams to get here to the Elite Eight on Sunday afternoon in the Midwest Region. Now, they have to take on the top overall seed in the dance, the Louisville Cardinals on the Elite Eight odds. Check out the keys to the Louisville vs. Duke matchup, as well as the March Madness odds for what should be a great game.

March Madness: Duke Blue Devils vs. Louisville Cardinals
Duke vs. Louisville Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Duke vs. Louisville Date/Time: Sunday, March 31st, 2:10 p.m. (ET)
2013 March Madness On TV: CBS

Key #1: Gorgui Dieng has to be a difference maker
Earlier this season, the Blue Devils and the Cardinals met in the Bahamas, and the end result was a victory for the Dookies. However, in that game, Dieng was on the sidelines out injured. This is where a real difference could be made. Though Louisville did win the rebounding battle that day, there wasn’t much in the way of resistance to F Mason Plumlee. The big man scored 16 points and had seven boards, and included in there were three huge offensive rebounds. Dieng has blocked 16 shots in his last seven games, many of which have come against top flight competition. The offensive numbers definitely don’t have to be there for the big man. Defensively though, Dieng has to block some shots and alter some others to flip the tide in favor of the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament.

Elite Eight Odds at WagerWeb Sportsbook
#2 Duke Blue Devils +3.5
#1 Louisville Cardinals -3.5
Over/Under 137
Click Here to Bet Your Elite Eight Picks!

Key #2: The Cardinals have to get back to playing “Louisville Defense”
We heard Head Coach Rick Pitino at halftime of the game against the Oregon Ducks on Friday night mention that his team needed to get back to playing “Louisville defense.” The team really didn’t listen all that well, as it allowed 38 points in the second half of the game against the Ducks and were pushed right down to the wire in the game as a result. It’s clear what Pitino means. He has to get his team playing better ball in half-court sets, and there has to be more trapping and more full-court pressuring of the basketball to force more turnovers. We saw this team set the NCAA Tournament record for steals in a game back in the second round against the North Carolina A&T Aggies, and yet against Oregon, a No. 12 seed, the Cardinals only managed seven steals and really only won the game because they shot 53.8 percent from the floor. It’s clear that “Louisville defense” has to get back in the saddle against the Blue Devils if there is going to be another waltz into the Final Four for one of the proudest programs in the country.


Key #3: Seth Curry has to out-Russ Smith Russ Smith
You’re reading that properly. Curry has to figure out how to do his own impersonation of Smith and do it better than the Louisville guard. At times, Smith literally is off the chain. He scored 31 points in the win against Oregon on Friday night, and he has now averaged 27.0 points per game here in the dance. When Smith gets going, no one is going to be able to stop him. Curry looked a little bit like that on Friday as well against a very good Michigan State Spartans outfit. The senior knocked down six of his first seven three-point field goal attempts and finished the game with 29 points. It’s not necessarily a matter of getting the points that will make the difference in this game. The player that makes the biggest shots in the biggest moments is going to be the one that leads his team to Atlanta for the Final Four.

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2013 Sweet 16 Predictions: Michigan State vs. Duke March Madness

March 28th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on 2013 Sweet 16 Predictions: Michigan State vs. Duke March Madness
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Ryan Kelly DukeThe 2013 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday night in the Midwest Region, where the Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans are going to renew what has become a very important rivalry over the course of the last few years. Head Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans are the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, and they are lined in what basically is a pick ’em game against the No. 2 seeded Blue Devils, who have to still feel slighted over the fact that they aren’t on the top line in the dance.

March Madness: Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils
Michigan State vs. Duke Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Michigan State vs. Duke Date/Time: Friday, March 29th, 9:45 p.m. ET
March Madness Television Coverage: CBS

Key #1: Ryan Kelly needs to make his first legitimate appearance of the tourney
It’s clear that when the Blue Devils are at their best, Ryan Kelly is at his best as well. This is a man that is going to be a matchup nightmare for the significantly less athletic Spartans to try to handle if he gets going. Kelly is every bit of 6’11”, and he can step back from the outside and knock down some big time shots. However, Kelly has gone four straight games now, scoring a total of just 25 points in those outings, and that’s just not good enough at this level for a team that is expected to challenge for a spot in the Final Four this week. If Kelly is hitting his shots, either F Adreian Payne or F Derrick Nix is going to have to step out and try to guard him on the perimeter, and if that turns out to be the case, the battle on the glass is going to be won by the Dookies in easy form. Kelly really didn’t have to exist against Albany or Creighton because those teams weren’t going to challenge F Mason Plumlee on the glass anyway, but if Kelly can’t step back and draw a defender away from the basket, Plumlee could have some problems.

Michigan State vs. Duke Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
#3 Michigan State Spartans +2
#2 Duke Blue Devils -2
Over/Under 134.5
Click Here to Bet Your Sweet 16 Picks!

Key #2: Keith Appling’s shoulder had better be good to go
The Spartans have put together two very impressive games here in the dance, but there is a big, big difference between playing against Memphis, playing against Valpo, and playing against Duke. The Blue Devils have legitimate NBA-type talent from one to five in this lineup, and there is no doubt that they are going to be in it for the full 40 minutes. That means that the Spartans have to be playing at full strength as well, and that might be a tad difficult. Appling hurt his shoulder in the win over Memphis on Saturday, and he ended that game with just two points, two assists, and a rebound. Granted, others like G Gary Harris were able to pick up the slack at that point for Sparty, but we just don’t know if there is enough talent here on this team to come up with a big time effort against the Blue Devils to carry the load for a player that might be carrying an injury.

Diamond Sportsbook

Key #3: The Dookies have to be ready to get down and dirty
The one thing about the ACC this season is that there really weren’t a lot of teams that willingly played the knock down, drag out games that the NCAA Tournament is known for. This is where we are going to learn a heck of a lot about Duke and its prospects of not just winning this game, but its chances of winning the whole enchilada as well. When you really look at the games that the Blue Devils played this year, they really weren’t forced into a lot of half-court type of games. The Virginia Cavaliers did it to the Dookies in Charlottesville, and the hosts won that game 73-68. Duke does have a win over the Ohio State Buckeyes to its credit as well from back in November of the same caliber, but that game was a long time ago, and obviously, OSU is a heck of a lot better now than it was before. However, with so many great teams that could play some big time defense left in the dance, the Blue Devils are going to need to prove that they can play this gritty type of game if they are going to win and be successful.

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Cincinnati vs. Duke Predictions & Analysis: 2012 Belk Bowl 12/27

December 26th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Cincinnati vs. Duke Predictions & Analysis: 2012 Belk Bowl 12/27
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Belk BowlThe 2012 Belk Bowl picks are going to be difficult to make, as the Cincinnati Bearcats and Duke Blue Devils are set to do battle with one another in a Big East vs. ACC battle. Check out our Belk Bowl predictions and the keys to the game for Cincinnati vs. Duke.

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2012 Belk Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Duke Blue Devils
2012 Belk Bowl Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
2012 Belk Bowl Date/Time: Thursday, December 27th, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
2012 Belk Bowl Television Coverage: ESPN, Watch ESPN

Key #1: The Blue Devils have to prove they can play with the big boys
The Belk Bowl isn’t exactly a BCS bowl game or anything of the sorts, but this is as big of a stage as the Blue Devils have played on in quite some time. They haven’t been in a bowl game in 17 years, and they haven’t won one in over 50 years. That’s a heck of a long time for a team to wait between bowl appearances or bowl victories. Duke played great ball this year against some lousy teams to start the season, but what we have to remember is that there wasn’t a win against a bowl eligible team to show for its work. Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the gang went 0-6 SU and ATS against teams that were bowl eligible and 6-0 SU and ATS against teams that weren’t eligible. The only asterisk to that mark was the fact that the North Carolina Tar Heels would have been eligible if not for the fact that they were faced with a bowl ban handed down by the NCAA. In their last four games of the season, the Blue Devils were outscored by an average score of 49-24.

Famous Belk Bowl Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
Cincinnati Bearcats -9.5
Duke Blue Devils +9.5
Over/Under 60.5
Click Here to Bet Your Famous Belk Bowl Picks!

Key #2: George Winn has to find the end zone for UC
The equation really is frighteningly simple for the Bearcats this year. When RB George Winn has found the end zone, they have done tremendously well. When he hasn’t, they haven’t. Winn has 12 touchdowns on the season spread over six different games. In those games that he has scored, the Cats have averaged 36.0 points per game. In those six outings, Winn has averaged 110.0 rushing yards per game. When he hasn’t scored, Winn has averaged just 90.7 yards per game, and the team has been good for only 26.0 points per game (21.0 points per game against FBS teams). There is a good chance for Winn to get into the end zone in this game against a Duke outfit that has allowed 17 rushing touchdowns in its last seven games.

Key #3: Duke’s seniors have to play like seniors
QB Sean Renfree has started for three seasons for the Blue Devils, while WR Connor Vernon is now in his fourth straight campaign starting. These two men arguably been the best QB/WR tandem that the Blue Devils have had in decades, and it is really showing. Renfree threw for 2,755 yards and 18 TDs this year, and he now has a total of 55 TDs between passing and rushing in the last three campaigns. Vernon has had 273 receptions, 3,630 yards, and 20 trips to the end zone in his four campaigns. He wrapped up his regular season finale with 11 catches, 109 yards, and two scores against Miami, and that marked the third time this year that he had multiple touchdowns in an outing. This is a game where the Blue Devils have everything stacked against them, and if they are going to figure out how to beat the Belk Bowl odds, they’ll need great contributions from their big time leaders that have been around the team for a long time.

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Final Four Game Props to Boost Your Bankroll

April 5th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Final Four Game Props to Boost Your Bankroll
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5Dimes Sportsbook has a full list of propositions for each of the Final Four betting affairs for this Saturday’s games. Here at Bankroll Sports, we have all of the action covered with your best picks that can boost your bankrolls!

Prop Bet #1: Gordon Hayward -1 point vs. Raymar Morgan (-120): Let’s just start with the basics on this one. Morgan averages 11.5 points per game against teams that typically play significantly worse defense than Butler. Hayward averages 15.5 points per game and has proven that he can put up big numbers against the likes of Kansas State and Syracuse already. Now, if we dig a bit deeper, we’ll see that Morgan is probably going to be the guy that the Bulldogs try to shut down. Not only are both Hayward and fellow big man Matt Howard stellar post defenders, but Morgan’s history in the tournament so far isn’t exactly stellar. MSU’s second leading scorer has only put up a total of 20 points in two games without G Kalin Lucas in the lineup, mostly because G Durrell Summers has really taken over the scoring load. That being said, we know that Hayward will get his points, especially considering the fact that he scored 49 of them against the Orange and Wildcats combined. This one seems to easy to miss.

Selection: Gordon Hayward -1 point at 5Dimes. (50% Deposit Bonus by clicking This Link.)

Prop Bet #2: Devin Ebanks over/under 20 Points + Rebounds: We like this particular matchup for West Virginia because Ebanks just doesn’t have an equal on the court in terms of athleticism. If the Blue Devils throw Brian Zoubek at him, he’ll just run around him. If it’s Singler, he’ll eat up the glass. The only legitimate matchup chance may be Lance Thomas, who would be undersized. Compare Ebanks a bit to F Ekpe Udoh for Baylor, who went for 18 points and ten boards against these Dookies last Sunday. The West Virginia forward averaged 12.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this year against Big East foes, so this is probably a decent indicator of what we can expect against the Blue Devils. However, when push comes to shove, he’s averaged over 37 minutes per game in the L/3 rounds of this tournament, which should set the stage for some extra stats from his season averages. Expect to see Ebanks squeak by this number by a few.

Selection: Devin Ebanks Over 20 Points + Rebounds at 5Dimes. (50% Deposit Bonus by clicking This Link.)

Prop Bet #3: Nolan Smith over/under 16.5 Points : This is a bit of a surprising line to see to say the least. Smith may only be the third best scorer on this team at 17.4 points per game, but he has been the only major of the three Dookies that really hasn’t hit a big scoring drought at any point during recent weeks. G Jon Scheyer had his streak of a half dozen games in which he scored below his average, while F Kyle Singler is coming off of a game in which he failed to hit a single shot from the field. Meanwhile, Smith seems to have the hot hand, scoring 29 points against Baylor. He also has a 20 point effort against Cal to his credit in the dance as well. Look for him to take over against a West Virginia team which really only has a weak spot in its defense on the perimeter. Smith could have a fantastic game.

Selection: Nolan Smith Over 16.5 Points at 5Dimes. (50% Deposit Bonus by clicking This Link.)

Updated Final Four MVP Odds and Free Predictions

April 5th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Updated Final Four MVP Odds and Free Predictions
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BetUS Sportsbook is all set for the biggest college basketball betting game of the year when the Duke Blue Devils and the Butler Bulldogs tip it off on Monday night! Here at Bankroll Sports, we’re taking a look at the final odds for the Final Four MVP award, which will be handed out at the conclusion of tonight’s game.

Nolan Smith, Duke Blue Devils

Why He Could Win: He has been the most consistent players for the Blue Devils in this tournament. Smith has averaged 18.6 points per game in the dance, making him one of the top scorers in this entire field of 65. You also know that unless he gets injured or into some serious foul trouble that he isn’t leaving the court for more than a minute or two at a time, so Smith will certainly have the chance to take all of the shots he needs.

Why He Might Not Win: Because he’s sort of the forgotten Blue Devil. Smith probably isn’t the best pure scorer on this team, nor is he the best rebounder or assists man. Even when he is leading the team in scoring for a game, the spotlight still often shines on either G Jon Scheyer or F Kyle Singler if either one of those two is having a solid night.

The Final Word: You can find Smith at +250 at BetUS Sportsbook to win MVP honors, which makes him the favorite to take down the award. However, unlike for Scheyer or Singler, it’s going to take a truly amazing effort for Smith to steal those votes that will go to one of the other two Dookies in the event that either one has a comparable game. Look elsewhere.

Jon Scheyer, Duke Blue Devils

Why He Could Win: He’s the leader of a senior-laden team, and he’s also the squad’s top scorer. Scheyer went off for 23 on West Virginia on Saturday night, making him the leader at this point in terms of scoring in the Final Four. If there’s a man that can take over any game single handedly from the outside, Scheyer is your guy, and if he can catch fire, Butler needs to look out. The senior can go on a 12-0 run all by himself very, very quickly.

Why He Might Not Win: Scheyer’s biggest problem is that he is notoriously inconsistent. Ultimately in most games, he gets his points and his assists, but sometimes, it takes awhile to get on the stat sheet. That can’t happen if he hopes to lead his team to victory and take down the MVP title.

The Final Word: Scheyer has been lined at +300 at BetUS Sportsbook to win the MVP award. In our eyes, this is the best bang for your buck. With another 20+ point effort, Scheyer will most likely be the highest scorer in the Final Four, and normally speaking, if you’re the Final Four’s leading point man and your team wins it all, you’re going to be the winner. Considering backing Scheyer at decent odds.

Gordon Hayward, Butler Bulldogs

Why He Could Win: It seems like a foregone conclusion that Hayward is winning the MVP award for the Bulldogs in the event that they win this game. He’s also the only player on the court that has any hope of winning the honors should his team lose. Hayward has averaged 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in the dance to this point, and his best three games have come against his hardest three opponents in Syracuse, Kansas State, and Michigan State. If there’s any hope of beating the Dookies, Hayward is going to have to play like an MVP.

Why He Might Not Win: Simply put, Butler probably isn’t winning this game. That would almost certainly shut any chances out of Hayward grabbing this award.

The Final Word: Hayward is the top Bulldog on the board at +300 at BetUS Sportsbook to win MVP honors. However, think about this one carefully before placing this bet. You can also get Butler at +290 on the moneyline in this game. If we reasonably assess that Howard isn’t winning this award without the Bulldogs winning the contest, you’re a lot better off passing on Hayward on this prop and taking the Horizon League champs to win the title instead just in case he gets hurt or someone else goes absolutely crazy.

Kyle Singler, Duke Blue Devils

Why He Could Win: The media loves a good story. After having the worst game of his career against Baylor in the Elite 8 by going 0/10 from the field and 0/5 from downtown and only scoring five points, Singler bounced back in the Final Four by scoring 21 points and bringing down nine boards in one of the statistically best games of his season. Just like Smith and Scheyer, Singler has the ability to score and score in bunches, as demonstrated by his nearly 18 points per game average in ’09-’10.

Why He Might Not Win: It’s hard to overlook that goose egg that he put up against Baylor. Even though that shouldn’t factor in to whether or not Singler wins this award, as a voter, it’s hard to look at Singler’s body of work in the dance and really say that he deserves any sort of MVP Award, especially when Smith has been so great over this whole tournament and Scheyer has caught fire in the L/3 rounds.

The Final Word: There’s a reason that Singler is +400 at BetUS Sportsbook to be named Final Four MVP. We don’t necessarily like Singler’s chances any better than Smith’s to capture the award, but we do like his odds a lot better. It seems a lot more likely that the forward can go off for 25+ points and steal the hearts of the voters in the process than that Smith can do the same thing. It’s going to take a huge effort, but if Singler can get it done, he may win this award as the fourth choice on the board.

Final Four Props and Free Picks

April 1st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Final Four Props and Free Picks
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With just four teams remaining in the chase for college basketball’s biggest prize, BoDog Sportsbook has assembled a list of props for the Final Four that are ripe for the picking. Here are our free Final Four prop picks for the weekend!

Prop Bet #1: What will the highest scoring team be in the Final Four games?: Considering just how good the defensive stats are in the Final Four, this prop could be incredibly difficult. After all, both over/unders are very low (Michigan State/Butler: 126, West Virginia/Duke: 130.5). However, don’t over think this one. The Bulldogs have kept both Syracuse and Kansas State under 60 points, and it seems awfully likely that that will be the fate of Michigan State as well. So now we’re looking at the winner of the Duke/West Virginia game. You probably won’t go wrong just by taking both the Mountaineers and Dookies, but we’re going to go with West Virginia because of its potential to explode and go on big runs through its post players.

Selection: West Virginia Mountaineers 5/2 at BoDog Sportsbook. (100% Deposit Bonus by clicking This Link.)

Prop Bet #2: Who will score the most points during the 2010 Final Four?: It’s important to note that the top four favorites for this prop are all either West Virginia Mountaineers or Duke Blue Devils. Remember that there is going to be someone on either Butler or Michigan State in all likelihood that really lights it up in the semifinals and moves on to the championship game. That’s why our pick is going to go against the grain. We’ll go with Michigan State’s G Durrell Summers to do the damage. Butler’s best defenders are all on the inside, so Summers may be able to pick apart this team from beyond the arc. He scored 21 points in the Elite 8 against the Volunteers, and has put together at least 19 in three straight games, which coincides with the injury to G Kalin Lucas. If Sparty can find a way to take care of the Bulldogs and end Cinderella’s season, Summers is probably going to be a favorite to cash this prop going into the final.

Selection: Durrell Summers 12/1 at BoDog Sportsbook. (100% Deposit Bonus by clicking This Link.)

Prop Bet #3: Will either Final Four game go into overtime?: Let’s be remotely realistic about this. We love overtime games, and you’re going to want to bank on this to happen at +300, but these just aren’t great odds. None of these teams have engaged in an overtime battle in the dance. Michigan State’s most recent overtime game came against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament, which was its only overtime duel of the year. Butler also has only played in one overtime duel this year. West Virginia needed an extra frame three times on the year, while Duke has yet to play one. If you do the math on all of that, these four teams have combined to play in overtime in just five of their 147 games, or 3.4%. Granted, these teams are significantly more evenly matched than they were with the mass majority of their opponents, and there’s a big curve that has to be given to this. But basically what you’re asking for if you’re betting yes is for one of these games to go to OT approximately 16.7% of the time. Even in the Final Four, that’s just not going to happen.

Selection: No -450 at BoDog Sportsbook. (100% Deposit Bonus by clicking This Link.)

2010 Final Four Odds, Free Predictions, & Analysis

March 30th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on 2010 Final Four Odds, Free Predictions, & Analysis
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List of Final Four Odds & Latest Odds to Win The NCAA Tournament Can Be Found Below!

Last weekend, it was once again proven that the madness of March can claim any team at any moment. Only two of the so-called “favorites” to win the NCAA Tournament remain going into the Final Four in Indianapolis, as the Duke Blue Devils opened up as +600 favorites, while the West Virginia Mountaineers began at +800. You could’ve found the Michigan State Spartans at +5000 and the Butler Bulldogs at +7500 at the outset of the tourney as well. Here’s our look at the last four teams standing with their odds and our predictions for how they’ll fare in the Final Four.

Duke Blue Devils

Odds: +145 at 5Dimes
Analysis: If you were told at the beginning of March Madness that there would only be one #1 seed make it to the Final Four, the Blue Devils almost certainly would’ve been your final guess. However, thanks to a relatively weak bracket and some strong defense, the Dookies have not only gone 4-0 SU to make it to Lucas Oil Stadium, but they’ve also gone a perfect 4-0 ATS to boot.
Keys to Victory: The Dookies absolutely know that they need their Big Three to keep on scoring and scoring at will to win it all. G Jon Scheyer, F Kyle Singler, and G Nolan Smith are averaging a combined 53.2 points per game this year, but Singler is coming off of the first game of his career in which he was held without a field (0/10 vs. Baylor). It’s not the defense that needs to keep up, it’s the offense, and Coach K probably knows it.
The Last Word: It hasn’t been a good thing to be a favorite in this tournament, and it’s going to be absolutely no different for the Blue Devils. West Virginia provides a type of test that hasn’t been seen this year by this team, and the ACC Champs are going to succumb to the defensive pressure and bow out one step away from the championship game.

Butler Bulldogs

Odds: +415 at 5Dimes
Analysis: Not only has Cinderella found the perfect fitting slipper, but now she gets to go to the ball that will played essentially on her home court. The Bulldogs have clearly been the mid-major that has stood out above the rest all season long, and now, they’re going to the Final Four, which will be played just seven miles from their campus. Butler is riding a 24 game winning streak, the longest in the nation by a country mile.
Keys to Victory: Defense brought Butler here, and defense is going to have to be what takes it to the next level. The Bulldogs have held their foes to just 59.6 points this season, the best mark of the four teams remaining. Don’t just say that those great numbers are thanks to a lack of competition, though. Ask Kansas State and Syracuse, both of which were averaging right around 80 points per game this year, just how tough it is to play these guys. The Dogs held each of them under 60 points.
The Last Word: Even though Butler is going to be favored against Michigan State, the party is probably over for it. The Bulldogs are cute and clearly have the ability to beat the best teams in the nation (after all, they already have a win against Ohio State to boot this year), but teams like this just don’t win National Championships. It’ll be a hard fought battle, but the clock will ultimately strike midnight on this Cinderella on Saturday.

Michigan State Spartans

Odds: +475 at 5Dimes
Analysis: Losing G Kalin Lucas has only seemed to make this team stronger. HC Tom Izzo knows what he’s doing, as demonstrated by the fact that he has been to six Final Fours in the L/12 seasons. This probably isn’t his most talented team, but it is a team that has truly come together for a common goal in spite of the fact that its leading scorer has been shelved with an Achilles tendon rupture.
Keys to Victory: It’s hard to just say that there is one key for this team. The Spartans don’t have a ton of size or speed, but what they do have is a lot of heart and effort. They’re also going to be the best coached side in this tournament. They’ll have a chance because of Izzo, and as long as they remain charismatic and show the ability to nail clutch shots and win games down the stretch, they’ll be a tough team to oust no matter who the foe really is.
The Last Word: Sparty came up just short last season, and unfortunately for them, that’s probably going to be the way that it works this year as well. MSU’s heart can carry it past an equally gritty Butler team, but it’s just not going to have enough no matter who the foe is on the other side of the bracket. Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride. That’s going to be the theme once again in East Lansing.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Odds: +250 at 5Dimes
Analysis: They say that surviving in the Big East is a great preparation for the NCAA Tournament. Though that didn’t hold true for a ton of teams from this conference this year, it did for the champs of the league, as the Mountaineers have used the momentum from their Big East Tournament triumph to lead them into the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Keys to Victory: The bigs for the Mountaineers have had a great tournament, and they’re going to have to continue that way to take care of Duke and either Michigan State or Butler to win it all. F Da’Sean Butler, F Kevin Jones, and F Devin Ebanks are combining to score 43.1 points and bring in 21.7 rebounds per night, both of which are incredibly hefty numbers. Even though the backcourt play is clearly going to be missing something if G Darryl Bryant can’t play, the frontcourt should be good enough for this team to beat anyone in the country.
The Last Word: Athleticism is the key to beating Duke, and that’s what is going to carry the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament Final. At that point, there’s going to be a relatively undersized team that is waiting in the wings. If West Virginia can successfully knock off the powerful Wildcats, who are stacked both on the inside and on the outside, it can certainly take care of any of these teams that are left standing to win the entire tournament. Look for the blue and gold to be cutting down the nets on Monday night.

Current March Madness Odds @ 5Dimes Sportsbook(as of 3/30/10):
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Duke +145
West Virginia +250
Butler +415
Michigan State +475