Don’t expect a high-scoring Final Four

With Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse out of the picture, some are grumbling about the lack of big-name teams at the Final Four. By the time the final buzzer sounds on Monday night, it’s entirely possible that those same detractors will call the games “boring” or “ugly.”

Here’s why:

1. Pace
There are 347 teams in the D1 ranks and of the four teams set to play Saturday, Michigan State (#215) plays at the fastest pace. The other three teams — Duke (#232), Butler (#285) and West Virginia (#306) — are all in the bottom third in the number of possessions used per game. All four teams are in the top 50 in offensive efficiency (points per possession), so there should be some scoring, but don’t expect any high-octane, up-and-down affairs.

2. Defense
Duke (#3 in defensive efficiency), Butler (#6) and West Virginia (#10) are elite defensive teams, and Michigan State (#33) isn’t bad, either. All four teams hold their opponents to less than 41.5% from the field and 33.1% from long range. Duke and Butler play great positional defense and always seem to have a help defender in the right spot. Michigan State and West Virginia use superior athleticism to smother opponents. The Mountaineers will even utilize a tough-to-attack 1-3-1 zone.

These teams are evenly matched and low-pace, low-scoring affairs lend themselves to close games. This should result in exciting basketball, but we’re not going to see anything like 2009, when all four teams were in the top 130 in overall pace.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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