This or similar headlines will appear across the country for the West Regional final and what it lacks in originally, it makes up for in convenience. A season ago, NCAA administrators realized they could have a home court advantage on their hands and while they welcomed the extra revenue of having Michigan State make it to the championship game, they had to be pleased that talent won out and North Carolina won the title, thus avoiding criticism for a team having football sized crowd edge in the sports most important contest.
Here we are one year later and the very same thing could occur again if Butler (31-4, 15-20 ATS) wins yet again, this time taking down the No. 2 seed out West in Kansas State (29-7, 21-9-1 ATS). Either way, the Bulldogs are heading back to Indianapolis after this Elite Eight encounter, but they might be doing so as the unofficial host of the Final Four with the triumph.
Butler was the aggressor all night against top-seeded Syracuse and out-worked the Orangemen over large expanses of the contest. The Bulldogs put Syracuse on the defensive from the start in building 10-point halftime lead. Butler’s greatness and toughness came to light after Syracuse had stormed back to take 54-50. Butler showed bulldog determination, scoring the next 11 points and the Orangemen’s tank went to empty. No wonder these Bulldogs are 22-7 ATS as underdogs.
Kansas State overcame more disappointments than a Cubs fan Thursday night in finally getting Xavier to succumb 101-96 in double overtime, with backers earning surprising Push. The Musketeers were like a cat, with Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway draining big shot after big shot to keep Xavier coming back time after time.
The Wildcats had guards that could also perform in the clutch as Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente totaled 53 points (compared to Xavier duo that had 58). When the K-State got to the century mark in points, Xavier’s nine lives had expired and the Wildcats are 12-1 ATS after one or more Over’s this season.
Bookmaker.com has Kansas State as four-point favorites to advance to Final Four for the first time since 1964. The Wildcats are 18-6-1 ATS as a favorite this season, but will have less 40 hours to rest and recover from a taxing contest with so much at stake. With the total at 134.5, K-State is 16-6 OVER away from Manhattan having won four of their last five games.
Butler would prefer to change the pace of this matchup, since they are 5-12 ATS when the total is 130 to 139.5.The Bulldogs are 15-6 OVER in road games after allowing 60 points or less in two straight contests, winning by 8.1 points a game.
This West finale starts just after 4:30 Eastern and in the last 21 years, only twice has a 5-seed faced a 2-seed in this round and each time the lower seed pulled the outright upset. (In 2005 and 1996)