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Kalin Lucas, the Spartans' leading scorer this season at 15.2 points a game, will be on the sideline with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Outside of Lucas, and 11-point scorers Morgan and Durrell Summers, Michigan State has nobody else averaging in double figures.
Not hard to figure out how the Spartans (28-8) win. Their opponents shoot 40.8 percent, and they outrebound teams by nearly nine a game.
"It's going to be a little bit refreshing to have to watch and say, 'How did that team do that?' Not, 'how did Magic Johnson or Carmelo Anthony do that?'" coach Tom Izzo said. "It really speaks to what team sports are about."
Michigan State's opponent, Butler, is writing the same kind of story.
When the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (32-4) entered the West Regional, the common thought was that they would need a superlative shooting effort to have any chance to knock off No. 1 Syracuse or No. 2 Kansas State.
In destroying the stereotype people had -- a plucky underdog whose biggest star is its gym -- and showcasing what they really are -- a legit, top-10 team with plenty of talent -- the Bulldogs won a different way.
They shot only 25 percent from 3-point range against Syracuse but bottled up Orange guard Andy Rautins, who came in looking like a tournament MVP but finished with 15 points and never took over the game.
Against Kansas State, the Bulldogs stopped the most explosive guard tandem in the country in Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, holding them to a single basket in the first half and a combined 11 for 30 for the game.
Butler guards Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley got most of the credit for that. Neither was very well known outside of Indy before the tournament.
"I think you could ask Rautins or Pullen, they would know," Butler's Matt Howard said.
All in all, it may not be pretty. But if the Final Four is anything like the rest of the NCAA tournament, it will feature tight games, crazy finishes and, of course, a good dose of hard-nosed defense.
"You've got four teams that very much believe in their teammates, that very much believe in the systems and styles of play," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "And they very much believe in defending. That's obvious."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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