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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Groundhog Day... on Elm Street

Last year, Butler University, huge underdogs, played their hearts out and made it all the way to the finals of the NCAA Basketball Championship, where they went up against the team that America loves to hate, Duke University. It was the perfect sports story; the Cinderella had a chance to take down Goliath. Butler played an amazing game, came up two points short, but won the hearts of the country. It was the first time in our memory when no one cared that the winner, Duke, won; all the headlines the next day were about how great Butler was, even in their loss. But even months later, we were still thinking how it couldn't get any worse than to lose the national championship in such a close game, right? Wrong! Try losing the national championship because you played the worst game of your life.

Last night was the final game in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Championship, and amazingly, Butler made it to the finals again. This time they were facing The University of Connecticut, or UConn, who was certainly beatable; UConn had struggled all season to find their footing. So most of America went into last night's game thinking, "Finally, this might the year that the Butler can finally win it, and avenge the heartbreaking loss of last year". And as it turned out, Butler did have the game in their hands, UConn wasn't playing well at all. Butler should have easily won the game, except for one small thing: they couldn't make a field goal to save their lives.
Butler had a horrific night of shooting, going 12 of 64 from the field for a shocking, record-low 18.8% f.g.a. They couldn't hit three point shots, they couldn't hit two point shots, they couldn't even hit lay-ups. It was shocking to watch a team which normally shoots so well, to shoot so poorly and to miss shots they would normally make in their sleep. UConn's defense was tight, no doubt, but Butler had more than enough uncontested shots to have won the game, if they'd only gone in.

UConn won the game 53-41, and they get to hold the trophy, as the winner of the game does deserve to do, but no one this morning is overly enthusiastic about UConn's win; everyone realizes that UConn didn't win so much as Butler just blew it.
So which is worse, to lose by two points to the most hated team in America, or lose a game you should have easily won but lose by playing the worst game of your life? We can't decide. They both suck. The only consolation for Butler is that they have changed the view of modern college basketball. They have proved that a mid-sized school that's not one of the "elite basketball-factory universities" can find success on a national level, which is a great thing. But come on, we're sure Butler would trade all that for a couple of made field goals in last night's game.

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