Really what else is there to say about this tournament? I know that I have said it over and over again the past few weeks. But this tournament is the best sporting spectacle that we have. It has the perfect blend of excitement, intensity, upsets, high level play, and emotion. You really could not ask for more. This year’s tournament will go down as one of the greatest of all time. Had Butler’s hero Hayward, had made the shot at the buzzer, this would have went down as perhaps the most improbable run in NCAA history and maybe the greatest tournament of all time. It was really that good.
On this night, neither team faltered under the bright lights. Both teams played smart and efficient basketball. And as I stated earlier today, if Duke was not hitting from 3 point range, this game would go down to the wire. Duke went 5 of 17 from behind the arc. Butler took advantage and this contest was really played all night at a tempo that favored the Bulldogs. But realize it is no easy task to slay multiple giants in a tournament. And on this night, the magic ran out with Hayward’s last shot.
The key stat of this game in my eyes. Butler held each of its first five tourney foes under 60 points. A magical effort defensively. On this night, Duke scored 61, and Butler lost by 2. I will admit that I was utterly shocked to see the Dukies score under 70. But they really did struggle from the perimeter on this evening. Another interesting stat to note. Butler’s dynamic duo of Hayward and Mack shot a combined 7 of 25 from the floor. And they still had a chance to win in the end. What a heroic effort by Avery Dukes off the bench for the Bulldogs. Duke’s big three put up 47 of the Blue Devil’s total 61 points. Coach K rode this trio all year and they did not let him down tonight.
It is a shame that the story had to end for Butler. But all fairy tales come to an end. The beautiful thing for the Bulldogs, most of the core of this team were underclassmen. There was only one senior in the starting lineup. A lot will hinge on whether guys like Hayward and Mack are NBA ready or decide to stay in school. Talk about a team that will not fly under the radar next year.
I know most of the people in the arena tonight will go home disappointed. And rightfully so. But they should also be proud of their hometown team. The Bulldogs represented Indianapolis in the highest light. Lets just hope that Brad Stevens does not jump ship and stay a Bulldog. I would love to see what he can do with this team in the years to come.
So Coach K gets his 4th title. I guess it is nice to win a 4th title. But most were unhappy with tonight’s outcome in that Duke is not too well liked by the majority of fans around the country. Duke is like the Yankees. People either love them or hate them. Well Indianapolis hates them tonight.
This was a shining moment for the Butler Bulldogs that will never be forgotten even though their season ended in defeat. When people look back on this tournament, the storyline will be Butler’s run rather than Duke’s National Championship..
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.