Championship Game Doesn’t Live Up To Tournament Expectations

Steve O Speak

After one of the most exciting and unexpected NCAA Tournaments in recent memory, the National Championship Game ended up being a huge disappointment. All Tourney we saw big time performances, dramatic finishes and underdogs coming out on top. Last night we saw sloppy play, a blowout win, and the favorite cutting down the nets.

Butler’s performance was just flat out embarrassing as they shot just 18.8% from the field including a spectacularly awful 3 for 31 from inside the arc. Their 9 for 33 shooting from downtown wasn’t great, but by comparison it looks impressive and kept them relatively in the game. The Bulldogs couldn’t even make their shots from the charity stripe, going just 8 for 14. Now no one can really shoot like that and expect to win, but Butler especially couldn’t afford the cold shooting as they didn’t have the size to matchup with UConn and it showed. The Bulldogs were out rebounded 51-40 and had 10 of their shots blocked.

While I don’t want to take away too much from UConn considering they have had the most impressive last 5 weeks in possibly college basketball history. First they tore through the Big East Tournament winning 5 games in 5 days, four of which were against ranked opponents. Then they completed their 6 game run in the NCAA Tournament, which included wins against San Diego State, Arizona and Kentucky. Over the last 5 weeks they have gone toe-to-toe with some of the best teams and players in the country, but last night was not their defining moment.

It ended up being that UConn was the less horrible of the two teams on the floor last night. Despite having a size, speed and pedigree advantage, the Huskies needed the Bulldogs to not shoot below average or better. If Butler makes just a couple more baskets and some of their free throws, they could have won that game. While Connecticut is partially to blame for Butler’s bad shooting with the blocked shots, the Bulldogs missed a number of easy/wide open shots. That isn’t exactly the stuff of National Champions, and really is a disappointing ending to what was an incredible run. There is no doubt that the Huskies earned their National Championship, it just wasn’t earned last night.

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