Butler-MSU Breakdown

David Mayo of The Grand Rapids Press broke down each position for the Butler-MSU matchup.

The matchup: Michigan State vs. Butler

by David Mayo, Link here

POINT GUARD

Ronald Nored, Butler, vs. Korie Lucious, MSU
Nored only averages about five shot attempts per game but is one of the nation’s premier defensive point guards.  Lucious is a shooter but has steered the offense better and made more defensive plays since Kalin Lucas’ injury.
Advantage — MSU
 
SHOOTING GUARD
Shelvin Mack, Butler, vs. Durrell Summers, MSU

The two most proficient 3-point shooters in the game, and Mack averaged three more points than Summers over the season. Summers has distinguished himself with sizzling 53.3-percent efficiency from long range during the tournament but Mack’s defense might give him an edge, albeit very slight.
Advantage — Butler
 
GUARD/FORWARD
Willie Veasley, Butler, vs. Raymar Morgan, MSU

Both are proficient if unspectacular offensively and outstanding defenders with the ability to guard multiple positions.  Morgan’s basketball intelligence is difficult to match. Both have senior motivation but Morgan’s four-inch height advantage will be difficult to overcome.
Advantage — MSU

POWER FORWARD
Matt Howard, Butler, vs. Delvon Roe, MSU

Howard obviously will see as much of Draymond Green as of Roe, so it’s an unfair positional judgment.  The two are very similar physically although Howard factors more into Butler’s offensive plan and Roe’s knee injury remains a concern.
Advantage — Butler

CENTER
Gordon Hayward, Butler, vs. Derrick Nix, MSU

This is the biggest mismatch among the starting lineups, with Hayward averaging more rebounds (8.2) than Nix does minutes played (7.8). Hayward also leads Butler in scoring (15.5) and actually has guarded point guards at times this year.
Advantage — Butler
 
BENCH
Michigan State should enjoy a substantial advantage, with national sixth man of the year Green and Chris Allen, who would start if healthy. The Spartans get production from a variety of bench players, from Garrick Sherman, to Austin Thornton, to Mike Kebler. They figure to get about double the reserve scoring of Butler, which only goes eight deep, although its best 3-point shooter, Zach Hahn (42 percent) comes off the bench.
Advantage — MSU
 
COACHES
Butler’s Brad Stevens (88-14, third year) is 33 years old and had to choose between a career in business or coaching, and obviously chose wisely. But Tom Izzo (364-145, 15th year) has done perhaps the best pure coaching job of his career during this NCAA tournament. The mismatch on the bench does not stop with the reserve players.
Advantage — MSU
 
PREDICTION
Butler has played four high-scoring teams that didn’t like the grinding defensive tempo during this NCAA tournament, held all four to fewer than 60 points, and finds itself in the Final Four. Michigan State is a running team that’s perfectly happy playing the defensive grinders and is 4-1 this season when scoring in the 50s. 
Michigan State 57, Butler 54

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