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Basketball Tue Apr 06 2010

Bulldogs, Blue Devils and the NCAA, oh my!

The 2010 national championship game between Butler and Duke was truly a match-up of David versus Goliath. Both teams gave 110 percent and took it one game at a time. Unfortunately, one team just wanted it more. Tired of overused sports clich├ęs? Thought so.

In a game that came down to a half-court shot at the buzzer bouncing off the backboard and rim, 70,930 people witnessed the Duke Blue Devils (35-5) clinch their fourth national title with a 61-59 victory over the Butler Bulldogs (33-5). Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer, Duke's go-to players throughout the season and tournament, combined for 34 points on 12-for-25 shooting from the field.

With the win, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski brings a national championship back to Durham, North Carolina, for the first time since Shane Battier and Jason Williams helped him do so in 2001. "First of all, it was a great basketball game," he told the Associated Press. "Fabulous year. We played a great game, [Butler] played a great game. It's hard for me to say it, to imagine that we're the national champions."

While the state of North Carolina will undoubtedly disagree, the biggest story of the night (and perhaps season) was Butler's ability to go toe-to-toe with basketball powerhouses from the nation's top conferences. The Bulldogs, a small conference program that average only 7,000 fans per game at home, took the nation by storm when they defeated Syracuse in the Sweet 16 and Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans in the Final Four to advance to Monday night's national championship game.

They also busted my bracket in the process.

Riding a 25-game winning streak, head coach Brad Stevens (can someone say pay raise?) and the Bulldogs unfortunately chose the wrong night to shoot 34.5 percent from the field. Powered by baby-faced Gordon Hayward, who finished with 12 points on 2-for-11 shooting, Butler put the finishing touches on a memorable tournament with an even more memorable conclusion to the game.

It just wasn't the conclusion they were looking for.

Duke giant Brian Zoubek found himself at the free throw line with three seconds remaining, making the first but intentionally missing the second. After securing the rebound, Hayward threw up a half-court shot that bounced off the rim at the buzzer, making everybody wet themselves a little.

While many people were disappointed to see Butler come up short, the gritty Bulldogs proved to the country that you don't need money to develop a competitive and talented sports program (then again, it doesn't hurt).

But with Butler's nickname originally being the "Christians," I hope I'm not reading too much into the fact that the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Butler Christians a day after Easter...

 
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