Championship game

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 5 Butler, Monday at 9:21 p.m. ET


The Road: It began with routs against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and California before knocking off No. 4 Purdue in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils beat Baylor, 78-71, to reach the Final Four and were never truly threatened on Saturday night in the national semifinals against West Virginia.


1. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski has three national titles to his credit, but Coach K hasn't gotten one since 2001. If he wins Monday, he'll join Adolph Rupp with four titles -- trailing only John Wooden's record 10 championships.

2. The blueblood vs. the mid-major: You've got Duke, one of the most high-profile programs with legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, against Horizon League Butler -- which has 33-year-old Brad Stevens at the helm. Appears like a complete mismatch.

3. Many have been critical of the smoothly paved road that the Blue Devils have had en route to the national title. Will that hurt Duke's chances in the championship contest?

Stud: Honestly, the Blue Devils have three of them: Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. It's difficult to pick one since each is so valuable to the success of the team and each is also so different.

Key: Brian Zoubek -- The 7-foot senior has improved dramatically each season in Durham and has become an effective big man for the Blue Devils. Zoubek will be critical in this matchup because he'll have a chance to dominate in the paint against a much-smaller Matt Howard and an inexperienced freshman Andrew Smith.

Key question: Duke got 63 points from Scheyer, Singler and Smith against West Virginia. Those three haven't clicked at the same time often this season. Can they do it a second consecutive game? If so, the Blue Devils will be awfully difficult for Butler to beat.

Why it wins: Duke gets Matt Howard into early foul trouble and dominates on the glass against a smaller Butler squad. The Blue Devils have a big man committee that has Zoubek and fellow senior Lance Thomas and brings in the Plumlee brothers -- Miles and Mason -- off the bench.

Why it loses: If Butler makes shots early, Ronald Nored shuts down Jon Scheyer, the Bulldogs hold their own on the backboard and gets Duke into an ugly, low-scoring affair that comes down to the wire.


The road: The Bulldogs cruised past UTEP to start the tournament before squeaking past Murray State in the second round. Butler then knocked off No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Kansas State to advance to the Final Four and beat Michigan State in a close game to move into the national championship.


1. Butler is playing with a national title on the line just about six miles down the road from its campus. Obviously, the Bulldogs will have a tremendous homecourt advantage.

2. Mid-major champions -- Butler may not be Cinderella, but the Bulldogs are still the little guys. Can they knock off one of the most powerful programs in the last the decades to win an improbable national title?

3. Health -- Shelvin Mack missed much of the second half with cramps and Matt Howard took a blow to the head and may have suffered a mild concussion. For Butler to have any shot on Monday, the Bulldogs need to get -- and remain -- healthy.

Stud: Gordon Hayward -- The skilled and athletic sophomore forward led the team in scoring and rebounding this season and is considered a first-round draft pick if he leaves college after the season. He's almost the under-the-radar version of Duke's Singler, a virtual unknown coming out of high school in Indiana.

Key: Howard -- The undersized junior big man has seemingly been in foul trouble each and every game, but he can't afford to do it in this game against a big and deep Duke frontline. If we see a lot of freshman Andrew Smith, that won't be a good sign for Stevens & Co.

Key question: How will Butler match up with Duke? My best guess is that defensive whiz Ronald Nored is given the task of having to stop Scheyer. Also, will Hayward be assigned to Singler or will Stevens put him on Lance Thomas in an effort to keep him out of foul trouble?

Why it wins: Hayward proves himself as the most talented and productive player on the floor and Butler makes shots from the perimeter.

Why it loses: West Virginia, like Butler, is a stingy and tough defensive team and Duke lit the Mountaineers up for 78 points. The Blue Devils also shoot it well as they did against West Virginia when they hit 53 percent of their shots.