Upsets Keep Coming, Butler and WVU punch tickets to Indy

Steve O Speak

If Kansas was considered the number 1 team in this tournament, the Kentucky Wildcats were 1A. They were stocked with NBA talent, including their talented freshman foursome who will all be likely lottery picks, either this year or next. And two of them, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins could very well be the first and second picks of this year’s draft. When Kansas got knocked out they became everyone’s favorite to win it all, but West Virginia stood in their way to the Final Four. Last night showed why it’s dangerous to rely on a primarily all freshman team.

It did not seem like luck was on the Mountaineers side as they were without their starting point guard Darryl Bryant. Victory seemed even less likely, when they couldn’t make a single 2 point basket in the first half. Combine the fact that Kentucky out-rebounded WVU by 11, and the Mountaineers didn’t have a chance, right? Wrong, WVU took the lead with four minutes to go in the first half and never looked back. Despite shooting only 38.5% from the field (they did finally make some 2-pointers), they shot 43.5% from behind the arc (including 8 3’s in the first half). While their stingy defense harassed Kentucky all night. The Wildcats 34.3% from the field, including an awful 4-32 from the three point line. It wasn’t the prettiest of games from the start, and the unlikeliness of dominating wins, but the Mountaineers played a great job. And showed that a little experience can go a long way come tournament time.

The Butler Bulldogs aren’t your typical mid-major underdog. In fact this season, they have constantly reminded us that they are one of the top teams in the country. I have a feeling that they will start to get the respect they so rightly deserve. Just two nights after knocking of Syracuse, Butler took down the two seed as well, by beating Kansas State 63-56. While Kansas State did have a one point lead late in the 2nd half, the Bulldogs controlled this game from start to finish.

Butler shot 45.7% from the field and bettered that from behind the arc, shooting 46.7%. Gordon Hayward paced the team with 22 points and nine rebounds. The Bulldogs as a team out rebounded K-State 36-27. But the real key to Butler’s win was their defense. They held the Wildcats just 38.6% shooting, including just 5 of 15 behind the three point line.

Now I know Kansas State faithful will point to them just winning a double overtime thriller two nights ago against Xavier. But you can’t blame this game on being tired. Kansas State was the deepest team in the tournament, that will rely on any number of guys to score. They were beat and worn out last night because of Butler’s relentless defense, and just lost the magic from Thursday night’s game.

Now Butler heads home to Indianapolis, and although they’ve never played a game of this magnitude before, somehow I don’t think they will be intimidated.

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