Regardless of the outcome of tonight's game against Duke, it's been a great run for these kids. I recognize that fact that they have played their hearts out and that Duke will likely have a cheering section, numbered three and dressed in black and white stripes. According to the officials in the NCAA, Duke players are beyond reproach and deserve every break.
Just cue up the tape from the West Virginia game Saturday night and watch them smack down one of the best players in college basketball without a call. Not enough? Try one from the Laettner days, when he stomped on the Kentucky player's chest without any foul and no review by NCAA officials.
It is likely that I will not be able to stay up and watch the game, because my days are long and start early. I have been fortunate enough to see every game in the tourney so far, especially their great game Saturday night against MSU.
It turned out just as everyone expected, very tough defense by both teams. MSU had a definite size advantage but did not take advantage of it, due to foul trouble. When a physical half court team gets in foul trouble, it affects their aggressiveness in the paint. Butler was able to capitalize on it and took advantage of the turnovers that State so generously gave them.
When Butler can control the tempo, they always have a chance to win the game. The problem Butler had in this one was shooting at the end of the game. MSU gave them every opportunity to close the game out strong, but the ball just would not fall into the basket. This probably had cardiac telemetry units all over town going berserk.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, MSU's shooting wasn't anything to write home about either. Some of it was pressure defense, the rest was desperation shots that were ill-advised.
I think they do have a chance against Duke, but they will have to get their shots to fall and will need to take the refs out of the game. They will need to play near perfect and possibly do it without their center, Matt Howard. He is questionable after suffering a mild concussion, Saturday night.
They will need to play smothering defense and confuse Duke's blue blood team, who are used to benefiting from favorable conditions, not of their own creation. It will be tough. But I think there is a chance.