Final matchup has a Hollywood feel

April 04, 2010|By Chris Dufresne On college basketball

OK, wait, maybe this is a movie script.

Duke beat West Virginia 78-57 in the second NCAA national semifinal game Saturday night, and Butler somehow did it against Michigan State 52-50 in the first game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

And that sets up Butler vs. Duke for the NCAA championship in Butler's hometown.

Wow.

This isn't good vs. evil - it's good vs. Devil.

Duke is 93-30 all-time in the tournament, and its coach is so famous he goes by Coach K.

Mike Krzyzewski has 867 career victories to 88 for Butler coach Brad Stevens, who has been alive only three years longer (33) than Coach K has been coaching in Durham.

Krzyzewski's winning percentage in the NCAA tournament is second only to John Wooden's.

Butler is 13-9 in the tournament.

While Duke pummeled West Virginia on Saturday, looking invincible, Butler's Bulldogs barked and scrapped out a two-point triumph over Michigan State despite going a span of 10:32 in the second half without scoring a basket.

The title game already has sides: Duke is the big, bad team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, seeking its fourth national title on Monday.

And Butler players are so cute you just want to hug them.

This is the first title-game appearance for Butler, which plays its home game in Hinkle Fieldhouse, the gym they used in "Hoosiers."

Last fall, as Duke's coach was taking heat for not having a team in the Final Four in six years, Butler's coach exited a team meeting thinking this could be a magical year, you know, with the Final Four being in Indianapolis.

"I walked out of that room and I kind of thought, I hope we'll get a chance to do this," Steven said. "This is a great story."

Duke, on Saturday, looked unbeatable.

The Blue Devils strafed the Mountaineers, making 13 of 25 of its three pointers. Duke shot 52.7 percent

Butler won, its 25th straight, but we're still not sure how.

Stevens may be only 33, but he has coached his team one step closer to Hoops Heaven.

He made a decision in the waning seconds many veteran coaches don't make.

Up three points with 5.8 seconds left, Stevens ordered his team to foul intentionally so Michigan State could not tie the game with a 3-pointer.

This is the strategy Memphis coach John Calipari did not employ two years ago against Kansas, and it may have cost him the national title.

Butler's plan worked perfectly.

With two seconds left, Shawn Vanzant wrapped his arms around Korie Lucious.

No way Lucious was sending it to overtime. He was the guy, remember, who beat Maryland in this year's tournament with a last-second 3-pointer.

Lucious made the first free throw to cut the lead to two but missed the second.

Gordon Hayward scooped up the rebound, and Butler was headed to Monday night.

Butler's time had come - in its own city.

This is the sixth time Indianapolis has hosted the Final Four, and the town already has been awarded the 2015 event.

Frankly, Indianapolis should get a Final Four at least every third year.

Indianapolis gets it. In no other city is there a better basketball-to-the-people connection.

And now the town is connected to Butler?

Get real.

But wait, it is real.

"Words can't explain the way everybody is feeling right now," Butler senior forward Willie Veasley said. "To be in the national championship game, when nobody gave us a chance at all."

Butler: here's your chance.

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