Green Room

And Then There Were Two—Butler vs. Duke

posted at 8:52 am on April 4, 2010 by

Upsetting thoughts…….

It all began on March 18th, when Danero Thomas threw up a 15-footer at the buzzer as 13th-seeded Murray State stunned No. 4 seed Vanderbilt 66-65.  Other upsets, along the way, were No.10 Saint Mary’s stunning No. 2 Villanova behind Omar Samhan’s 32 point performance and No. 9 Northern Iowa over No. 1 seeded Kansas.  With West Virginia knocking off Kentucky there was only one number one seed left in the tournament, and that was Duke who rolled over the Mountaineers in the second game last night, 78-57.  The Blue Devils rained in three-pointers all night long and crashed the boards for second chance shots to pull away from a crippled West Virginia team in the second half.

 Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated thought both games would be close and thrilling:

“Vegas seems to think we’re in for a pair of good ones. Butler is listed as a one-point favorite over Michigan State, Duke a two-and-a-half point favorite on the Mountaineers. Either result, were it to actually occur by that margin, would be thrilling for the 70,000-plus spectators Saturday — myself included.”

Mandel was only half right, and Vegas was too, as a stubborn Butler team held off Michigan State 52-50 to earn a trip to the finals Monday night.  But while Duke’s crushing defeat of WVU was not predicted, Butler has now reached a pinnacle of not allowing any foe in the tourney to reach 60 points.  Cinderella?  Hardly.  David vs. Goliath?  I don’t think so.  The under-ranked No. 5 Bulldogs have now beaten Syracuse, Kansas State and a tough Michigan State for the right to face Duke in the finals.   Mandel also noted after last night’s games how quickly “hall of fame” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski put the kibosh on the David v Goliath tagline:

“It didn’t take long into his postgame press conference for Coach K to begin debunking the David vs. Goliath storyline.

 ”They’re one of the best teams in the country,” he said of the 33-4 Bulldogs. “I think Cinderella would be if somebody had eight, nine losses and pulled some upsets, stuff like that. … They’ve beaten Syracuse and Kansas State and Michigan State.”

Would a Butler win over Duke be considered an upset?

The Blue Devils have averaged 73 points in the tournament, while the Bulldogs have allowed an average of 55 points in their respective five games, beat No. 1 Syracuse that averaged 85 points in their last seven games, and held a Kansas State team to only 56, which averaged 80 points in their last ten games.  Something will have to give on Monday night.  The early Vegas line has Duke by seven.  I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Worst tournament ever. Poor play, poor coaching and poor officiating. I’m a huge college basketball fan but this was just bad. Maybe I should have watched the NIT, it couldn’t have been any worse.

lowandslow on April 4, 2010 at 11:29 AM

I echo everything lowandslow said.

Having said that, go Butler!

Howard Portnoy on April 4, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Duke will roll over Butler. I should bet on it, but won’t. Duke is just too talented. I’m surprised the point spread is only seven.

The biggest mystery is this: Will Coach K accept a $10-15 million offer from the New Jersey Nets?

barrypopik on April 5, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Worst tournament ever. Poor play, poor coaching and poor officiating. I’m a huge college basketball fan but this was just bad. Maybe I should have watched the NIT, it couldn’t have been any worse.

lowandslow on April 4, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Are we watching the same tournament? Maybe you’re thinking of last year’s snoorefest, because that it was. This year had so many down to the wire games, upsets, OTs, mid-major wins…Come. On. It has been a great tournament.

Duke will roll over Butler. I should bet on it, but won’t. Duke is just too talented. I’m surprised the point spread is only seven.

The biggest mystery is this: Will Coach K accept a $10-15 million offer from the New Jersey Nets?

barrypopik on April 5, 2010 at 2:30 AM

This game will be tight if Duke is NOT hitting the 3s and Butler is. But then Duke will go inside and crash the boards, so foul trouble will be an issue for Butler. If Duke plays like Saturday night, this game has the potential to be a major blowout. Butler is a great team, but they struggle on offense and I don’t think their defense can handle this Duke team.

conservative pilgrim on April 5, 2010 at 4:51 PM

The biggest mystery is this: Will Coach K accept a $10-15 million offer from the New Jersey Nets?

barrypopik on April 5, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Never. Coach K will be at Duke until he retires.

conservative pilgrim on April 5, 2010 at 4:53 PM

I’m rooting for the underdog Butler. They will have to play flawless against a seasoned Duke team that has so much tradition on their side. (and talent)

Rovin on April 5, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Rovin on April 5, 2010 at 9:23 PM

If it wasn’t Duke (my favorite team) playing, I’d be cheering for Butler too. Instant Classic. I need to watch the game tomorrow so I can enjoy it. Too nerve wracking.

conservative pilgrim on April 6, 2010 at 1:19 AM

conservative pilgrim on April 6, 2010 at 1:19 AM

What a game! Any time you have a national championship game go down to the last shot, (inches away from creating a “hollywood” ending), and with both teams playing some of the best defense in college basketball history, you’ve witnessed “one for the ages”. Congrats to a Duke team that earned this win with gutty clutch shooting and clearly a team effort at the end.

No one can honestly say Butler did not deserve to be there in this title game. So many “what ifs” and as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in the post-game interview, “they’re scary good”. Good enough to be one shot short of a national championship, (actually two shots, if you count the halfcourt shot at the end that would have made history)

If you like college basketball, you saw one of the best in the long history of storied final shots that went in, or in this case, just missed. Duke had finally run the clock out on a Butler team that refused to quit.

And then there was one.

Rovin on April 6, 2010 at 8:19 AM

Duke will roll over Butler. I should bet on it, but won’t. Duke is just too talented. I’m surprised the point spread is only seven. barrypopik on April 5, 2010 at 2:30 AM

How’s that again, barry?

Rovin on April 6, 2010 at 8:27 AM