In St. Louis
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Tennessee
TIME: 11:20 PDT
ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst
THE LINE: Tennessee by 1
RECORDS: Michigan State 27-8, Tennessee 28-8.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Michigan State d. No. 12 New Mexico State, 70-67, d. No. 4 Maryland, 85-83, d. No. 9 Northern Iowa, 59-52; Tennessee d. No. 11 San Diego State, 62-59, d. No. 14 Ohio U., 83-68, d. No. 2 Ohio State, 76-73.
THE BUZZ: Michigan State has won two in a row without star point guard Kalin Lucas. As they did with Ohio State's Evan Turner, look for the Vols to throw a variety of defenses at Lucas' replacement, Korie Lucious. Expect to see big guys and small guys covering Lucious at varying times; the Vols have good depth and Coach Bruce Pearl isn't afraid to use it. Tennessee swingman J.P. Prince has played extremely well in the tourney, and he will pose some matchup problems for the Spartans, whose big guys aren't quick enough for Prince. The Volunteers are poor from three-point range and could use Scotty Hopson and/or Cameron Tatum — really, anybody — to hit a few from beyond the arc to make sure the Spartans don't clog the lane. Michigan State has gotten excellent production from guard Durrell Summers, and the Vols probably will use a revolving door of defenders on him as well. Michigan State's frontcourt trio of Delvon Roe, Draymond Green and Raymar Morgan lacks consistency, but any of the three can put up a double-double.
NUMBERS GAME: Michigan State outrebounds opponents by almost nine per game, and that has to worry Pearl, whose team has a rebound margin of just 1.1. Tennessee big man Wayne Chism and reserves Brian Williams and Kenny Hall need to pound the boards, especially on the defensive end; Michigan State does a solid job on the offensive boards, and the Vols can't afford to give up second-chance points.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Baylor
TIME: 2:05 PDT
ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst
THE LINE: Duke by 4.5
RECORDS: Duke 32-5, Baylor 28-7
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Duke d. No. 16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 73-44, d. No. 8 California, 68-53, d. No. 4 Purdue, 70-57; Baylor d. No. 14 Sam Houston State, 68-59, d. No. 11 Old Dominion, 76-68, d. No. 10 Saint Mary's, 72-49.
THE BUZZ: Duke is seeking its first Final Four appearance since 2004, while Baylor hopes to continue a run that started with the Bears' first win in the NCAA Tournament since 1950. Duke has been carried this season by its Big Three of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. Scheyer has had a tough time of it of late, but Smith, who is the team's best athlete, has taken up the slack. Smith can slash to the rim and also hit the outside shot. Singler is a solid all-around player and is a key distributor, scorer and rebounder for the Blue Devils. Duke needs a productive outing from 7-footer Brian Zoubek; he doesn't necessarily need to score, but he must rebound well and block a few shots. Duke did a great job defensively against Cal's high-powered perimeter trio, but Baylor has a solid backcourt and some talented big men. Despite playing at an extremely high level all season, the Baylor backcourt of Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn was overlooked by numerous national observers. No more. That duo has lit up the defenses the Bears have faced in the tourney. Dunn has unreal range. Ekpe Udoh, Josh Lomers and Anthony Jones are an effective trio up front for the Bears. Udoh's offensive game has made great strides this season, and he's one of the nation's top shot blockers. Lomers lacks athleticism, but he is a massive guy who takes up a lot of space on the interior and as a screener.
NUMBERS GAME: Despite the talented backcourt, Baylor can be sloppy with the ball and has just 15 more assists than turnovers. Being sloppy against Duke would mean trouble because the Blue Devils can be lethal in transition. Duke forces almost 15 turnovers per game. While both teams prefer a quick pace — Baylor averages 77.1 points per game, Duke 77.4 — all seven of Baylor's losses have come when the Bears have allowed at least 76 points.