Don’t Sleep on UConn and Butler

Posted: March 27, 2011 by Josh Tannenbaum in Uncategorized

In what has been a wacky NCAA tournament thus far, two teams are sitting pretty in the Final Four when virtually nobody gave them a chance.

There’s not a college basketball fan in America that doesn’t remember Gordon Hayward’s desperation half-court heave and Butler’s run cut just short by Duke in last year’s championship game. But did anyone expect the 8-seeded Butler to do it again? After losing Hayward to the NBA draft, Butler has needed other players to step up, and step up they have. Senior Matt Howard has emerged as a leader, averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game during the regular season, and has made big plays at the end of tournament games to help Butler come out on top. Junior Shelvin Mack has also put some of the weight on his shoulders, scoring prolifically in the tournament, including a 27-point performance against Florida yesterday to lead the Bulldogs into the Final Four. Coach Brad Stevens has his group playing very good basketball down the stretch, and their tough defense and timely buckets could lead them to a second straight appearance in the national championship.

Kemba Walker was one of the most talked about players in the country this season, averaging 23.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Yet UConn did not get much love coming into the tourney. The Huskies had just won the Big East Tournament, which (as we all know) is not an easy feat due to the depth in the conference. With a legitimate star player, an athletic supporting cast, and a coach who has won with the best of ’em, UConn’s run to the Final Four should not be a surprise at all. Watch out for this team, because after performing through the first 4 rounds, the Huskies have an opportunity to show the nation what they’re really made of in Houston on the biggest of stages.

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