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Congratulations, Butler; Now Here’s The Bad News

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How cool is it that Butler made it to the NCAA basketball championship game against Duke? Usually the title game is some combination of two prominent schools and if a team is a surprise combatant, it's still from a big conference.

Butler breaks the mold. How many casual fans have heard of their conference, the Horizon League, prior to this tournament? How many can name another school from it? One may have a lesser chance of remembering the name of Butler's coach than spelling Duke's.

Butler vs. Michigan State / Getty ImagesSo this is all very neat stuff. But I'm afraid to say from this vantage point (a.k.a. "the wonderfully comfortable couch") it looks like a Duke blowout. And nobody, except maybe gamblers and maybe denizens of Durham, North Carolina, wants to see Duke easily dispose of the Bulldogs.

(Aside: Everyone before the tournament was talking about Duke's "easy" path to the Final Four. But how about Michigan State's path? Thanks to other teams, they averted having to play Ohio State or Kansas. They faced off against a 12, a 4, a 9, and a 6 before losing to Butler, another 5. That has to be some type of unkept record. By comparison, Duke had to defeat third-seeded Baylor and second-seeded West Virginia, and did so quite handily.)

Isn't this how the story ends pretty much all the time in the title game? Gander at how top teams fare against lesser-branded opponents when a championship is at stake:

2009: (1) UNC beat (2) Michigan State
2002: (1) Maryland beat (5) Indiana
2001: (1) Duke beat (2) Arizona
2000: (1) Michigan State beat (5) Florida
1997: (1) Kentucky lost to (4) Arizona

1996: (1) Kentucky beat (4) Syracuse
1995: (1) UCLA beat (2) Arkansas
1994: (1) Arkansas beat (2) Duke
1992: (1) Duke beat (6) Michigan (although technically this game NEVER HAPPENED)
1988: (1) Oklahoma lost to (6) Kansas
1987: (1) Indiana beat (2) Syracuse
1986: (1) Duke lost to (2) Louisville
1985: (1) Georgetown lost to (8) Villanova

All right, some poorer schools can beat 1-seeds when it counts. Just make sure it's the '80s or Lute Olson is your coach, and you'll be fine.

Hey, I'd love to see the mid major marauders send the Dukies back to their erratically-designed city road structure. Considering they were able to take down Syracuse and Kansas State, it's possible. But unfortunately the Blue Devils have too much size, too much talent, and a coach who has more experience coaching than BU's coach has experience living.

If this game ends quickly (which it should), you still might have time to catch the end of Dancing With The Stars.

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  • El Bicho

    yeah, but doesn’t one of their players have a concussion and might miss the game? doesn’t bode well for Butler

  • Randy Palmer

    While I agree that Duke will win, they better bring their A game tonight. Anything less, and Butler might creep into this game. Just hope that Duke has not already began celebrating?

    One thing that is a positive is the exposure that the Horizon conference is getting. As a former athlete from the conference, this is a huge boost.

  • Cynthia White

    I’m a big North Carolina fan and I hope Butler pulls off the big upset. I think they can win, I’m not ready to count them out yet.

  • Alan

    As we approach the end of the first half it looks like Butler is able to hang with the over rated Duke team.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    I’d love nothing more than to be wrong.

  • Baritone

    Well, Matt, in the end you were right, but at the same time you were wrong. Butler played them absolutely even all night.

    I really don’t think that Butler is a Cinderala story. They are simply a very good team. They don’t have the hulking behemoths that Duke and other big name Div I schools put on the floor, but they play team ball perhaps better than any other school out there.

    Hell, if Butler had just hit their season field goal average in this game, they could have won it going away. Overall, the many misses Butler put up weren’t even that well defended. Obviously, given last nite’s performance coupled with their equally dismal shooting against MSU, it is apparent that Butler’s Achilles Heal is their just that – their shooting.

    It’s odd in that while they had other difficult shooting outings during the season, as most any team does, there were also games wherein they shot the lights out.
    Go figure.

    While we’re sad here in Indy, it was a hell of a game. Ya gotta hand it to Duke, but, hey, if that last second heave had gone it at the buzzer, there would have been pandemonium in Lucas Oil, and it’d still be going on out in the streets of Indy as I type. But, alas…