It all comes down to this. Three weeks, 68 teams, and countless hours spent later and here we are… the national title game between the #8 Butler Bulldogs and #3 UConn Huskies. Big vs. Small, David vs. Goliath, Good vs. Evil.
OK… maybe I’m taking things a little far, but that’s what it feels like doesn’t it?
UConn, the big time program from the big time conference with the legendary coach is looking to score its third national title. They have one of the best players in all of college basketball with Kemba Walker and have been on a virtual tear since the start of the Big East Tournament. In fact, this winning streak on neutral courts in tournament play goes all they way back to November.
For those who don’t remember, UConn won the Maui Invitational. That means that they have yet to lose a tournament style game on a neutral court all year. How impressive is that? Jim Calhoun has done a remarkable job coaching this team. It may even be his best job yet. No one expected this team to be where it is today after the train wreck that was the 2009 season. Kudos to them even though he’s staring down the barrel of a three game suspension next season that could very well increase. The NCAA is probably sweating bullets over this one.
On the opposite side of the bracket we have the Butler Bulldogs. The little school that could that is very quickly and not so quietly transforming into a national power under head coach Brad Stevens. Butler made the national title game last year and lost to Duke. Despite losing their best player to the NBA, they find themselves in the exact same spot they were last year. Once is a fluke, twice is a trend.
UConn might have the talent and size advantage overall, but Butler has the experience, heart, and hunger. How else do you explain them making it all the way back to the title game this year? The funny thing is that everyone keeps counting them out and picking against them. When will we all learn not to count this team out? All they do is win basketball games. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, where they’re playing, or how close the final score is. Butler just wins.
So who wins? Honestly… I have no idea. There are two things we’ve learned from March 2010.
- Don’t pick against Butler
- Don’t pick against Kemba Walker
No we’re faced with the situation where both are facing off against one another. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game ended in a tie if somehow the NCAA would allow it. Then again, this is the NCAA we’re talking about here. If this game threatens to go to double over time they might just call the game right there on the spot and take a vote for the champion. The winner of course would be North Carolina… or Duke… or Kentucky… or even Ohio St. Good thing this isn’t football.
I’m just hoping for a good game and I think I’ll get my wish. Looking at both of these teams and the stage they are playing on, I don’t see any way in which this doesn’t turn into an instant classic. Both teams are playing too well for one to blow the other out. Watch for big games by Kemba Walker (of course) and Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack for Butler. I also wouldn’t put it past Shawn Vanzant of Butler or Jeremy Lamb of UConn making plays down the stretch.
So here it comes… here is the pick…
No, I’m not stalling…
OK, maybe I am stalling. So what?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Butler is going to win this game tonight and I can say that I have absolutely zero confidence in that pick. The only reason I’m leaning that way is because of the senior leadership on Butler and not wanting to lose back to back title games. Nobody wants to be mentioned in the same breath as the Buffalo Bills.
However, I wouldn’t put it past Kemba Walker to pull yet another miracle out of his butt and doing something ridiculous to win the game for UConn. He’s that kind of player and a cold blooded killer.
This should be a fun game to watch… even if it starts at 9:30.
Ya, 9:30… that’s the NCAA for ya…