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Posted: Friday April 1, 2011 10:47AM ; Updated: Friday April 1, 2011 10:47AM
Experts' Picks: Final Four
SI.com's six experts predict how Saturday Night's Final Four semifinals will play out.
No. 8 Butler vs. No. 11 VCU
Seth Davis
My initial inclination was to pick VCU, but two realizations changed my mind. First, I think VCU has played further above its head in this tournament than Butler has, especially with respect to three-point shooting. Between the hype and the challenge of playing in a football stadium, I expect the Rams to float back to Earth. Second, I like that the Butler kids have Final Four experience. That is an invaluable asset in a big game like this.
Butler 64, VCU 60
Luke Winn
The Rams have beaten the Pac-10, Big East, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 -- they've done everything except face a mid-major that's even more fearless in the postseason than they are. Enter Butler, which has a habit of taking teams out of their offensive rhythm, and will be unfazed by the Final Four experience. The Rams' long-rang shooters will regress enough to the mean -- they've been connecting at a crazy clip -- to keep the Bulldogs in the game, and Matt Howard's dirty work will make the difference.
Butler 71, VCU 68 (OT)
Andy Staples
VCU has shredded opponents in this tournament because those opponents have underestimated the Rams. Butler players know a little about being underestimated, and they won't fall into that trap. The team with the experience on the big stage will move on to the title game.
Butler 67, VCU 63
Andy Glockner
With the way VCU is playing and the types of ways the Rams can test Butler, it seems very dangerous to go against them, but I will anyway. The Bulldogs don't get rattled when an opponent is imparting its will on them. Also, Butler has enough versatility to counter the Rams' approach, has better size and has more experience in games of this magnitude after last season's run.
Butler 71, VCU 66
Tim Layden
What was remarkable about VCU's Elite Eight upset of Kansas was that Kansas just let the Rams play the way they play. They let VCU rush the ball in transition and shoot uncontested threes and showed no discipline or maturity of their own on offense. Purdue was the same way in Round 2. Butler is whole different animal for the Rams. The Bulldogs will execute precisely on both ends of the floor and that will be the difference in this game. Watch Butler seal the victory when coach Brad Stevens draws up a killer inbounds play to preserve the lead.
Butler 68, VCU 65
Stewart Mandel
VCU has been hitting three-pointers at an absurd rate this entire tournament and is bound to cool off eventually. Butler, with its in-your-face perimeter defenders, is well-suited to cause a cooling, especially given a week to prepare.
Butler 67, VCU 60
No. 3 UConn vs. No. 4 Kentucky
Seth Davis
These teams are evenly matched, right down to the two mad geniuses on the sideline. UConn's Alex Oriakhi and Kentucky's Josh Harrellson will bang each other in the paint, and Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight will wage an epic battle at point guard. I like that Huskies freshman Jeremy Lamb might be the best pro prospect in this game, but in the end I don't believe Walker will let his team lose.
UConn 77, Kentucky 76 (OT)
Luke Winn
UK is the best team left in the tourney. Never mind that it lost by 17 to the Huskies in Maui; players such as Brandon Knight, Josh Harrellson and Doron Lamb have made huge strides since then, and this is a squad that's peaking in March. DeAndre Liggins will be the hero for keeping Kemba Walker in check.
Kentucky 74, UConn 69
Andy Staples
It's tough to bet against Connecticut's Kemba Walker. The guy has been virtually unstoppable in postseason play. But Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight has produced some late-game heroics of his own, and Wildcats veterans Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller have grown from role players into leaders. They'll be the difference, as they have in every game in Kentucky's run to this point.
Kentucky 70, UConn 65
Andy Glockner
In a game this evenly matched, it's never a bad plan to side with the upperclass point guard who's a possible national player of the year. As good as Brandon Knight is -- and he's very good -- this will be his biggest test of the season. This one will be nothing like the Maui Invitational blowout, but the end result will be the same. Go with Kemba and Co. Barely.
UConn 68, Kentucky 65
Tim Layden
What a fascinating matchup. Between them, Kentucky (three) and Connecticut (five) use eight freshmen in their rotations. They are two of the hottest teams in the country, but which group of freshmen will crack first? There's a serious temptation to go with Connecticut because Kemba Walker is the best player left in the tournament. But instead, the difference will be Kentucky's Josh "Jorts" Harrellson, who will be too much for UConn to handle inside.
Kentucky 90, UConn 89
Stewart Mandel
Both teams are on fire, but if I have to pick one to keep going, I'll take the Wildcats and their ferocious defense. DeAndre Liggins might be one of the few defenders capable of slowing down Kemba Walker.
Kentucky 70, UConn 68

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