By Steve Ginsburg
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski bristles at the notion that Butler relied more on emotion than talent to reach the final of the NCAA Tournament, refusing to underestimate them as a Cinderella story.
Butler squeezed by last year's finalist Michigan State 52-50, while Duke pummeled Big East champion West Virginia 78-57 on Saturday to set up Monday's intriguing final.
"They're accomplished players," he added. "They're a very outstanding basketball team who, because they haven't been to the Final Four, creates that Cinderella thing.
The Horizon League champion Bulldogs knocked out West Region top seed Syracuse 63-59 and then for an encore stunned number two Kansas State 63-56 to reach the Final Four.
Butler's defense has been the catalyst during their tournament run, the Bulldogs having yet to surrender 60 points in any of their five victories.
They are often at a handicap physically, but make up for it with desire. They constantly dive for loose balls or swat rebounds that they cannot control out to the foul line to keep it alive.
Butler (33-4) outscored Michigan State 20-2 on points off turnovers.
"They played great defensively," said Michigan State forward Draymond Green. "They get their hands on a lot of balls. When you think you got a layup (guard Ronald) Nored comes from behind, makes a steal. They have very active hands."
The majority of the country will undoubtedly be rooting for Butler on Monday.
"If I was not playing I would be a Butler fan," admitted Spartans coach Tom Izzo. "I like the way they play. They're physical. I like their story. I like the whole thing."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)