No Shame In Indy For Butler

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There is no shame on the campus of Butler University today. Just hours removed from a closely fought defeat at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils, the Butler Bulldogs have proven that they can play any team on any court anywhere in America.

Butler Bulldogs

Final FourThough coming up on the short end of a 61-59 nail-biter, Butler showed the world that a mid-major conference school can play with the very best teams in men’s college basketball, completing the season with their heads held high.

It wasn’t the David versus Goliath match up that some asserted it was nor was Cinderella left outside of the ball as Butler’s game ending three-point shot missed, sealing the win for Duke. But it was a feel good story that had most of the nation rooting for the underdog “dawgs” as they took on one of the most storied teams in college basketball.

Indy Favorite

Playing just five miles from their home in Indianapolis, Butler had the crowd advantage even though they weren’t familiar with Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium before the NCAA tournament had moved to its Final Four round this past weekend. Hinkle Fieldhouse is the home of the Bulldogs, long used by Indiana to host the high school boys state basketball championship and the backdrop for the 1986 Hollywood classic Hoosiers.

Many viewers were hoping that Butler would create a storybook ending, one that would surpass anything previously conceived by Hollywood. Though Duke was factored in as a 7-point favorite, mostly everyone expected Butler to give everything they had to knock them off. They weren’t disappointed.

Duke Prowess

On paper, Duke had size and experience on its side. Those two factors alone plus the experience of Coach K should have been enough to secure a convincing win. But Butler was riding a 25-game winning streak and had the rabid support of its fans behind it. Neither team led by more than six points and Butler, down by 5 as time was winding down, managed to narrow that difference to just one.

Duke’s three top players–Kyle Singler, John Scheyer and Nolan Smith—combined for 47 of the Blue Devil’s 61 points while Butler ace Gordon Hayward was held to 12 points. It was Hayward’s half-court three-point shot that nearly sent Butler into the win column, demonstrating just how scrappy (and close) Butler played all evening.

Best Basketball

Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about this year’s basketball tournament was the performance of a number of lightly regarded teams besides Butler. The Cornell Big Red made it to the Sweet Sixteen as did the Northern Iowa Panthers. Duke was the only #1 seed that managed to make it to the Final Four, a team with no superstars, but like Butler one with a vision to win.

With this year’s tournament there were two winners—one took the NCAA crown, while the other one stole our hearts.

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