One year ago today, the match-up was set for the NCAA basketball final. Perennial power Duke would be facing local underdog Butler. The expectation was an easy victory for Duke. Butler took them to the brink. Gordon Hayward's half-court heave rattled out securing Duke's 4th title.
Even with this close a match-up, had the question been asked which of these teams will be back in the final next year. I would have expected the answer to be Duke more than 9 out of 10 times.
And yet Butler is the team playing for the championship tonight. Hayward was their best player last year and is now in the NBA, but somehow, they made it back anyway.
I've heard callers on the local radio complaining that they prefer when the big names teams are playing rather than these small schools. I've heard national "experts" say the TV numbers will be down because no one cares about Butler. Strangely enough, Saturday's match-up were the most watched semi-finals since 2005. I would expect similar numbers tonight.
I think Butler's coach, Brad Stevens, has to be considered the top young coach in the game. I would think any school with an opening will be trying to convince him to leave Butler for greener (like $$$) pastures. I hope he stays.
UConn is facing punishment next season. Jim Calhoun will have to sit out 3 games next season for recruiting violations. Combining that with his rant a couple years back when asked about justifying how much he makes in this economic crisis, makes it easy to root for the under(Bull)dog.