Did you notice what I noticed at the end of both of these games? Before I get into my Important Observations, I’d like to first profess my undying love for the quick two. Both of these games (Florida-Butler in regulation, not OT) ended with situations in which a fast two was an offensive option that got passed over for a low-percentage three-point shot. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this in the college game, it just seems to be something that all teams do. I’ve also noticed the a lack of the two-for-one strategy at the end of halves on possessions that start around 50 seconds. I don’t know why that is, and these college coaches must know what they’ve doing, but I just don’t get it.
61. Butler 74, Florida 71 — Butler just made back-to-back Final Fours. Stop trying to make sense of it and just accept it.
Yes, Butler. Butler made the Final Four again this year. The same Butler that lost to Milwaukee (the Panthers) by 24. The same Butler 4 out of 5 to Wright State, Milwaukee (a second time), Valparaiso and Youngstown State. And apparently the same Butler that was one possession away form winning the whole shebang-a-bang last season.
My mind is not capable of simultaneously appreciating the first couple of facts about Butler and the consecutive Final Fours. The only explanation is that this team knows how to play in the tournament. And the thing is that Butler’s four wins in the tournament this season have been by an average of about 3 points per game. Three of those wins were actually one-possession games. And yet they’re still alive. Don’t try to rationalize it, it’s just happening.
Think of it this way: Butler plays basketball games like the way a toddler walks. They stumble around and do that drunk baby thing each time they move. The legs never stop shaking and the balance is anything but centered, yet by some sort of series of small miracles, they remain upright. Each step looks like it could be their last before they go down in a terrible display of coordination, but somehow they stay up, toddling away.
The way this game ended was some of the most unbridled Gus Johnson Magic I can remember. Perhaps the greatest takeaway from this game is that Butler paired with Gus Johnson is the only surefire way to ensure a close game. I don’t’ know what it is about the Butler style that keeps games so close, and I certainly don’t want to understand what it is about Gus that forces games to come down to one possession, but this pairing is just festing gold. Pure festing gold. There’s nothing else to say about Butler, you have to just sit back and enjoy it as long as it lasts. But who knows, that next step might be the one that sends them to the floor.
62. Connecticut 65, Arizona 63 — The Huskies are on a hot streak. And Kemba Walker is still the best college player alive.
That isn’t a promise that they’ll win any more or anything, it’s more like an observation that they remain something near untouchable in the postseason. Counting both the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, the U-Conn men have won 9 games in 19 days. Like Butler, they aren’t blowing teams out either; 4 of those wins were within one possession or in OT. Just like my last IO about U-Conn predicted, the team would go as far as Jeremy Lamb carried them, and tonight he had 19 points.
I still feel like Kemba Walker is superhuman and is not only the best player in the tournament, but the best player in all of college ball. I still feel like he’s unguardable. But if Lamb stays hot, the team is unbeatable, which will be an issue with one of either UNC or Kentucky waiting in the Final Four.