Current Record: 1-1, predicted Butler 64, Michigan State 59; West Virginia 78, Duke 71.
Monday's Prediction: Butler 60, Duke 57
Moments after the initial 65-team bracket was unveiled three weeks ago, people started picking against Butler. CBS/Sports Illustrated analyst Seth Davis predicted a 12-5 upset and UTEP victory. Many people felt like the Bulldogs were not quite as good as their 20-game winning streak and #11 national ranking would indicate. Butler proved the experts wrong in winning two games in San Jose to advance to the Sweet 16.
Nobody gave the Bulldogs a chance against Syracuse, and Butler prevailed against the West region's top seed. Butler also held the "best backcourt in the tournament" in check during a win against Kansas State. Some people actually gave Butler a chance to beat Michigan State and the Bulldogs won that game as well. Now Butler takes on Duke in a game that is everything a college basketball fan could ask for. The "experts" are already calling the outcome a forgone conclusion.
Not so fast my friend! If Butler can beat Kansas State and Syracuse, please explain to me why they can't beat Duke. Sure, the Blue Devils looked good in Saturday's game against West Virginia, but I doubt they can replicate that kind of a performance. Besides, this Duke team doesn't resemble the ones that won Coach K his other three national titles. This IS Butler's best team, and a Grade A effort b ALL of the Bulldogs will enough to cap off this storybook season.
I'm still a little worried about Matt Howard's availability for Monday night. If he can't play, I'm not sure the Dawgs can win. But let's make a prediction assuming he will be good to go and can contribute. Butler makes it 6-for-6 in holding an opponent under 60 points.
Current Record: 1-1, predicted Butler 63, Michigan State 60; West Virginia 77, Duke 76.
Monday's prediction: Butler 71, Duke 70
Alright, This weekend has been as surreal as it gets for me. I am a jaded Final Four veteran, but seeing the Butler Bulldogs playing well and winning on the court at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday was unbelieveable. The same Butler program I have seen play in person countless times, the same coaching staff that I have played pick-up games with on the Hinkle Fieldhouse hardwood. From the Syracuse game on, the Bulldogs have been playing with house money, every win sweeter and pure gravy. So does it matter what happens Monday night???
BU hasn't given up more than 60 so far in the NCAAs, they might vs Duke. And that does not mean they will lose. Matt Howard has to play, and shake off the mild-concussion that he suffered against Michigan St. Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack have to play their "A" games and the Dawgs must find a 3rd option. Willie Veasley are you listening??? Also, I am waiting for Zach Hahn to shake off his NCAA shooting slump. The New castle product will hit a big shot Monday night.
Duke played lights out vs West Virginia in the Semis. They are college basketball's "chosen ones." Better than the mere mortals that populate every other school's roster. I am of the belief that this current crop of Dookies lacks the fortitude of past Blue Devil teams. No Laettners, Grant Hills or Bobby Hurleys. Not even any Shane Battiers or Jayson Williams. With that being said, Duke overlooks Butler just enough.
Current Record: 2-0, predicted Butler 65, Michigan State 58; Duke 85, West Virginia 71.
Monday's Prediction: Duke 63, Butler 55
The championship game in Detroit, which I attended last year, went sort of like this. Home area team gets most of the seats in the building, motivated by a groundswell of support, but in the end falls to a veteran-filled team who simply wasn't going to lose. North Carolina took the storyline and squashed it into a thousand pieces, scoring a title game record 55 points in the first half on the way to a 17-point win that wasn't nearly that close. Butler won't have it that bad, but with Matt Howard hurting a bit, Duke comes out with an immediate size advantage. Butler will again play solid defense, and may even hold the Blue Devils to under 60 points. As great as it would be for Indianapolis to have Butler win (Which is still a very strong possibility), I think size and experience will allow Duke to make a few more shots and grab a few more rebounds for their first title win since 2001.
Hey look on the bright side, unfinished business might be just enough to keep Brad Stevens in town.
Current Record: 2-0, predicted Butler 73, Michigan State 65; Duke 69, West Virginia 51.
Monday's Prediction: Butler 77, Duke 73 in overtime.
Let's just face the facts: THIS IS NOT A GREAT DUKE TEAM. Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, Shane Battier, Elton Brand, Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, and the legendary Blue Devils from my lifetime are not on this team. In fact, this team lacks even a single fundamental basketball player that just seems to do everything right, but won't wow you in the stat box. Realistically, the only thing Duke seems to have on it's shoulders right now is the "eff you" factor that NOBODY in the state of Indiana will want them to win tomorrow, let alone a very very very small portion of our country.
Butler just has the intangibles that makes teams great. And you know what? You don't bet against destiny, a young prodigy of a coach that will soon replace shots of Jimmy Valvano in every commercial, home-field advantage, gigantic winning streaks, great defenses, refs that would not make it out of the state alive without police escorts if they make a bad call, and you don't bet against puppies, or in this case Blue!
And I truly think that both Gordon Hayward and the rest of the Bulldogs are just young enough, and maybe naive enough, to not truly realize what is at stake on Monday night. And if he plays, I truly think Matt Howard is going to have a sneaky 15 point, 13 rebound performance that is going to be the difference maker.
The Butler Bulldogs are going to be your NCAA National Champions. In fact, I've already pre-ordered my t-shirt, hat, victory towel, shot glass, mug, fathead, and subscription of Sports Illustrated so I get the hardbound cover and DVD.
Indy Sports Nation's NCAA Championship Predictions
With the pressure of knowing Monday night could be the most memorable game in NCAA history, the contributors of Indy Sports Nation give their thoughts on who will win the NCAA Championship.
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