2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Important Observation 65 Butler is the people’s champion

*Before I get started — sorry for the lack of posts lately, you won’t believe how much work is required to finish a thesis. The bad news is that it’s so much more I imagined. The good news is that I finished it and I don’t need to worry about it any more. The good news is also that I can get back to blogging. Just in time for more NCAA tournament Important Observations.

65. Butler 70, VCU 62Like it or not, Butler is America’s team

Unless you are a fan of the UConn/Kentucky winner, you have to cheer for Butler in this final game. You just have to. It’s the American way. As much we love to cheer for the top seeds because we picked them in our brackets, there’s just something about the NCAA tournament that makes the story about the underdog. The Final Four game between Butler and VCU was basically the people’s championship. And Butler won it.

Brad Stevens will stay up past his bedtime to coach the Butler Bulldogs in a second straight NCAA title game. If he gets his homework done.

Looking back at this game, it seems like Butler won it exactly the same way that Butler has won every game. They kept the opposing team under control and Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard made plays. Mack (8-11 shooting, 5-6 from three, 24 points) was unstoppable and even though Matt Howard only made three shots, he still put up 17 points because he got to the free throw line. Those two have been the entire team for Butler this postseason and this game was no different.

I think that both Kentucky and UConn have the players to match up with Mack and Howard, but so have other teams, and look how that worked out for them. It’s hard to actually say what makes Butler so good, but maybe that’s what makes them so good. Maybe that’s how they’ve ended up in a second consecutive championship game, which is an incredible accomplishment. Borderline unbelievable.

Of course, this win means that we have to hear more about the strength of the non-power conferences which I don’t like. Just because Butler has managed to bottle lightning two seasons in a row doesn’t mean all of them are this good. But this Butler team does make you wonder: maybe the difference between the haves and the have-nots isn’t that big. Maybe these mid-major teams are better than we give them credit for. Maybe Brad Stevens sleeps in a cryogenic freezing tank at night to avoid aging.

In all seriousness, I think the statement made by Butler is that Butler this season is as good as the major conference powers. All mid-majors aren’t. But Butler certainly is, and they deserve to be where they are. I’ll be cheering with America for them, and you should be too.