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The Washington State Cougars can break open the champagne this morning after the Butler Bulldogs set a new mark for shooting futility in the NCAA Championship Game. It's been a long time coming, but the Cougars' record low shooting mark, set in 1941, was snapped by Butler after the Bulldogs shot just 18.8 percent from the field. Washington State had held the record after shooting 21.5 percent from the field in the 1941 NCAA Championship Game in a loss to Wisconsin.
But the 1941 game was full of statistical oddities as both teams couldn't figure out how to put the ball in the basket. As it stands now, the Cougars hold the second-worst mark in championship history and Wisconsin, winner of the 1941 NCAA Championship, holds the fourth-worst mark with 25.4 percent shooting in the same game.
Butler's performance, however, tops them all. The Bulldogs made just three shots from inside the arc -- shooting just 9.6 percent on two-pointers or the game. Points in the paint were impossible for Butler, and it took the Bulldogs a jaw-dropping 34 minutes to secure their first interior points of the game. The Bulldogs only saving grace came from beyond the arc, where Butler made nine of 33 attempts, good for 27.3 percent and raising their paltry shooting percentage to 18.1 percent.
So Washington State fans, feel free to celebrate today. Your game may still be the worst in NCAA Championship history, but Butler set a new standard for shooting ineptitude.
If your bracket looks like mine, it belongs in a fire pit, not a frame, and definitely not as an entry into any bracket pool of significance. The 2011 NCAA Tournament was hard on office pools as it shattered the most obvious of bracket predictions with upsets and a Final Four few could've predicted. But with Monday night's NCAA Championship Game in the books, we have a fully complete bracket, and UConn stands alone atone the rubble that is the 2011 NCAA bracket.
The final 2011 NCAA Tournament printable bracket can be found over at SB Nation. Check your work, check out the final bracket and figure out just what you got wrong and right. If you picked the correct Final Four, or even the correct National Championship Game pairing, pat yourself on the back and buy a lottery ticket. Against all odds, VCU made the Final Four and Butler made it back to the final game before falling to UConn in the championship.
For more on Monday's game, check out the rest of our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream. You'll find the final score and stats, along with everyone's favorite NCAA Tournament tradition: One Shining Moment.
It wasn't pretty, nor was it entertaining for most, but the Connecticut Huskies took care of business on Monday night in the NCAA Championship Game to cut down the nets and give Jim Calhoun his third NCAA championship. While we expected defense to be the common theme, Butler's shooting performance was one for the ages -- and not in a good way. The Bulldogs set a new mark for futility in the NCAA title game, giving UConn all the room it needed to run away with the championship in the second half.
Nothing illustrates the Four Factors. While UConn didn't exactly light the world on fire, Butler's offensive struggles ran so deep, the Huskies were able to take over with a less than average performance on the offensive end.
Yes, Butler's effective field goal percentage was just 25.8 percent. If raw numbers are your thing, the Bulldogs shot just 18.8 percent from the floor -- connecting on just 12 of 64 shots. Consider Butler made just three shots from inside the arc all night -- three of 31, to be exact. It's easy to see why UConn was able to storm away with the game down the stretch as the Bulldogs were powerless to stop the bleeding.
Kemba Walker did what he's been doing all tournament long, leading UConn with a game-high 16 points while also grabbing nine rebounds. Jeremy Lamb proved to be a capable sidekick again, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. Alex Oriakhi won the battle in the paint, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The other six UConn players to log minutes scored just 14 points combined, but the big three were enough to bring home the championship.
Shelvin Mack was the only Butler player in double-figures with 13 points and nine rebounds. Mack took just four shots inside the arc, missing all four, while shooting 4-11 from three-point range. Matt Howard couldn't buy a bucket, hitting just one shot, a three-pointer, and scoring seven points in the loss. Chase Stigall finished with nine points, all on three-pointers. Andrew Smith had two of the Bulldogs' three made baskets from two-point range, with Shawn Vanzant adding the third.
With the 53-41 win, UConn finished the season at 32-9 with an NCAA championship as a feather in its cap. While the 2011 NCAA Tournament finished with a whimper, it was still a fun ride filled with ups and downs throughout, and the show UConn put on over the last month -- both in the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament -- has been one for the ages.
It's always the goal of CBS producers to get at least a minor shot of every team in the NCAA Tournament into its trademark One Shining Moment highlight package. The popularity of the highlight package has skyrocketed as fans search for their team's shining moment in the CBS piece, a reward for making the NCAA Tournament. And after a disastrous experiment with a change in singers in 2010 -- Jennifer Hudson sang One Shining Moment as CBS dropped the traditional version -- Luther Vandross was back and the song was music to my ears, making the 2011 One Shining Moment much more enjoyable than the previous version.
I figured the Washington Huskies, who combined with North Carolina to play one of the more exciting games in the NCAA Tournament, would get more than a fleeting moment in this year's One Shining Moment. And while the Huskies did receive face time, the choice was interesting, to say the least. Check out the video below, but don't blink or you may miss it (via Jose3030)
If you missed it, Washington's One Shining Moment was Matthew Bryan-Amaning sprinting down the court. Not a dunk, not an Isaiah Thomas or C.J. Wilcox three, but a big man running the court.
At least it was better than St. John's, who didn't make the cut and was also bounced by Gonzaga in the first round.
It’s all over in Houston and the Connecticut Huskies are the 2011 NCAA Tournament champions. The Butler Bulldogs were never able to get on track as they struggled from the field all game long. With Butler struggling, UConn was able to take advantage, surging to the lead in the second half to secure a 53-41 win to take home the title.
The win caps one of the greater runs you’ll ever see in college basketball as UConn won the Big East Tournament by taking five games in five days before moving on to win the NCAA Tournament. When it was all over, the Huskies had 11 wins in just under a month, including the biggest prize of them all: A third championship for head coach Jim Calhoun.
Butler finished the game just 12-64 from the field, an 18.8 percent clip. The Bulldogs were just 3-31 from inside the arc, thanks to UConn’s swarming defense in the paint and an inability to find the range from anywhere on the floor. The shooting performance was the worst in NCAA Tournament Championship history.
Shelvin Mack scored a team-high 13 points, with Chase Stigall adding nine and Matt Howard adding seven. But with nobody able to knock down a shot, the Bulldogs were powerless to stop UConn as it surged into the lead and kept Butler at-bay in the second half.
Kemba Walker capped an outstanding month with a game-high 16 points for UConn. Alex Oriakhi had a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb was also in double-figures with 11 points.
The UConn Huskies are your new NCAA champions, but Butler has nothing to hang its head about. For the second-straight year, the Bulldogs made it to the NCAA Championship Game against all odds, crashing a party traditionally held for the major conferences. Despite the loss, it’s been a truly remarkable two-year run for Brad Stevens, who has built something special at Butler.
It’s all gone wrong in a hurry for the Butler Bulldogs and shooting is to blame. Some of the Bulldogs’ shooting woes can be attributed to the Connecticut Huskies’ defense, but Butler has also been missing plenty of open looks and that game is getting out of hand because of it. Butler is just 10-55 from the field, 18.2 percent, and 7-28 from beyond the arc. Filling in the blanks, the Bulldogs have connected on just 3-27 from inside the arc, or just about 11 percent of their two-point shots.
UConn has taken advantage of Butler’s shooting woes and has the NCAA Championship all but locked up with under four minutes to go. Though UConn isn’t exactly lighting it up — shooting just 35 percent from the floor and 10 percent from beyond the arc — the Huskies have done enough to take an 11-point lead into the final media timeout.
Kemba Walker has a team-high 12 points, with Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb each adding 11. At one point in the second half, UConn had 18 points in the paint while Butler had none, illustrated the Bulldogs’ shooting woes and the effectiveness of the Huskies interior defense.
Unless something miraculous happens, Butler looks to be on its way to falling short in the NCAA finals again this year. Stay tuned to our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream for updates on the game. For more, head over to SB Nation’s 2011 NCAA Tournament hub.
There’s a lid on the bucket for the Butler Bulldogs in the second half and the Connecticut Huskies are taking advantage in the NCAA Championship Game. Butler has missed its last 12 shots while trying to find a way to break a UConn defense that’s been swarming. Both teams were already having a tough shooting night, but it’s gotten worse for Butler, who is now 7-41 from the floor, a 17.1 percent clip.
Even worse, six of those seven buckets have come from beyond the arc. A quick number crunch tells us Butler is just 1-19 from two-point range, which can only be considered dismal. UConn has dominated inside, altering shots and making it impossible for Butler to put up a decent shot, and the numbers reflect it.
Connecticut is marginally better, thanks in part to its 18 points in the paint. The Huskies are 13-39 from the field, an even 33.3 percent for the game. Jeremy Lamb is back on the floor and making a difference right away, helping spark a 14-1 UConn run.
Butler has to find a way to get clean looks in the second half if it has any aspirations of keeping this close. With just under 12 minutes to go, UConn holds a 33-28 lead in the NCAA Championship Game.
If one was to watch Monday night’s game and not know the stakes, Butler and UConn might be mistaken for NIT teams. It’s exaggerating it a bit, but both teams are struggling mightily on the offensive end of the floor — UConn shot 29 percent from the floor and Butler shot 22.2 percent. Nevertheless, despite making just six shots in the first half, Butler has the 22-19 halftime lead, thanks to Shelvin Mack’s three-pointer at the buzzer to close the half.
It’s not all bad however, especially for fans of defense. Butler and UConn are both terrific on the defensive end of the floor, and make executing sets and getting good shots incredibly difficult. It’s why you see some of the atrocious shooting numbers in the half, but poor shooting was to be expected coming into the game.
Kemba Walker scored a team-high seven points for UConn, but was forced to sit for the final three minutes after picking up his second foul. Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb also played limited minutes after being whistled for two quick fouls. Oriakhi had four points on 2-2 shooting when he was on the floor.
Shelvin Mack led the way for Butler with seven points, matching Walker stride-for-stride. Chase Stigall and Matt Howard played complimentary roles, scoring six and five points, respectively. Andrew Smith was active on the glass, grabbing a team-high five rebounds.
At the half, Butler has the 22-19 lead in what looks like a race to 40 points. We’re 20 minutes away from crowning a champion, and Butler is 20 minutes away from doing what it could not do in 2010. Stay tuned to our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream for updates on the game. For more, head over to SB Nation’s 2011 NCAA Tournament hub.
We’re at the point where Jim Nantz began finding every excuse he could for the poor shooting that’s stricken both the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA Championship Game. Nantz has cited the tough defense — a valid excuse as both teams boast top-notch defenses — as well as the adjustment needed to get used to shooting in the “cavernous” Reliant Stadium. Either way, it’s been tough sledding for UConn and Butler in the first half as both teams have been unable to find the range.
At last check, Butler was 5-21 from the field, 23.8 percent, and UConn was 9-28 from the field, 32.1 percent. It’s not as if turnovers have been an issue, Butler has two and UConn has four, but scoring has been a serious issue. Despite making only five field goals, Butler has tied the score up at 19 with just a few minutes to go in the half.
And how have the Bulldogs done it? By getting to the line, of course. Butler is 5-8 from the line, but forced UConn head coach Jim Calhoun to sit both Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb in the first half with two fouls. It’s that aggressive style keeping Butler in the game even as the offense sputters.
As I’m writing this, Kemba Walker picked up his second foul with just under three minutes to go after driving into the lane and getting whistled for the charge. With three of UConn’s biggest stars on the bench, the time is now for Butler, who have an opportunity to take advantage before the half.
At times during the NCAA Tournament, it seemed as if Matt Howard was a mad-man, clanking every single shot from behind the arc. But on Monday, Howard finally buried a three, hitting his second attempt from beyond the arc to get Butler going on the offensive end, at least for the moment. It still hasn’t been pretty, and mistakes are plaguing both teams, but the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies may be finding a rhythm on the offensive end.
The defense has been as advertised for both teams, but UConn broke through with a quick 5-0 run triggered by — who else — Kemba Walker. The all-everything junior made his first field goal after starting the game 0-5 before promptly hitting his next, a lay-in, while being fouled. Five points by Walker gave UConn the 13-8 lead before Butler cut the deficit to four with one of two free throws on the next possession.
It’s been an ugly first few minutes in the NCAA Championship as the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies deal with the nerves of playing on college basketball’s biggest stage. After an early bucket on a scramble play by UConn forward Tyler Olander, both teams struggled, missing plenty of good shots. Butler was finally able to answer after blowing a layup on the fast-break as Chase Stigall recovered to bury a three.
Butler is 1-9 from the field in the early going, with UConn just marginally better at 2-9. Both teams are getting good, uncontested looks from both inside the arc and out, yet are unable to convert. Kemba Walker is 0-4 early for UConn and Shelvin Mack is 0-3 for Butler. It’s been tough sledding for the guards.
We entered the media timeout with our first bit of excitement as Andrew Smith sent a Kemba Walker lay-in attempt into the 10th row with an authoritative swat. With just under 16 minutes to go in the half, UConn trails Butler, 4-3.
The guards get all the press in Monday night’s NCAA Championship Game, but the battle in the paint may just be the one to decide the game. Shelvin Mack and Shawn Vanzant are both capable on the perimeter for Butler, but face a tough test from the UConn guards on both ends of the floor. Kemba Walker is a handful for any team and Jeremy Lamb looks to be a star in the making. But the battle in the paint, where Matt Howard and Alex Oriakhi make their money for Butler and UConn, respectively, is the matchup to watch in Houston.
Howard is a handful, scrambling for loose balls, drawing fouls and scoring at an efficient clip for the Bulldogs. His 121.2 ORtg is a team-high, and his percentages on both the offensive and defensive glass — 10.3 and 20.5, respectively — are among the best for Butler. Howard is pesky, and can be a disruptive force for the Bulldogs, drawing 6.2 fouls per game.
For UConn, Alex Oriakhi handles the duties on the interior, but is overshadowed by the Huskies’ outstanding guards. His 112.1 ORtg is among the team leaders, and his offensive rebounding rate of 14.7 percent is in the top-25 nationally.
Keep an eye on the paint, specifically Howard and Oriakhi. Monday night’s NCAA Championship Game may just come down to these two.
For more on the Bulldogs and Huskies, check out the rest of our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream.
Many college basketball experts made last-minute picks and predictions ahead of Monday night’s National Championship Game, yet a consensus was never formed. If the predictions are any indication, we’re in for a close game to cap the 2011 NCAA Tournament as Butler and UConn take the floor in Houston. Though UConn is favored slightly in the Vegas odds, many are falling in love with Butler all over again, and the college basketball writers are no exception.
CBS Sports had its eight writers pick Monday night’s game and the results were split right down the middle. Gary Parrish likes the Bulldogs in a 68-65 win and Dennis Dodd picked a similar score, choosing the Bulldogs, 68-63. The two Matts — Matt Norlander and Matt Jones — also chose Butler to win with a score in the 60s.
On the other side, Gregg Doyle had UConn by five, 63-58, with Eric Angevine picking UConn, as well, 63-61. Jeff Borzello also likes UConn with the score in the same range, 66-63. Mike Freeman is the only writer expecting the score to nudge into the 70-point range, and picked the Huskies to cut down the nets with a 74-69 win.
In just about half an hour, the picks won’t matter anymore as Butler and UConn take the floor in Houston in the climactic event of the college basketball season. If the odds and predictions are any indication, we’re in for a good, close game.
To get geared up for the game, check out our Butler team capsule and UConn team capsule. We have the latest NCAA Championship Game odds, as well. For the latest on the game, check out the rest of our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream. For more, head over to SB Nation’s 2011 NCAA Tournament hub.
We’re just under an hour away from the 2011 NCAA Championship Game in Houston, site of the Final Four. Our two survivors are the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies, who have made their way through the NCAA bracket to reach the final step in the tournament with a chance to be crowned the best team in college basketball this season. It’s a late start — especially for the East Coast — but is worth the wait to see Butler try for the title after falling short in 2010.
The NCAA Championship Game gets underway at 6:23 p.m. PDT, live on CBS. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg have the call again, with Gus Johnson probably sitting at home like the rest of us, screaming at the television like a nervous fan. We feel you pain Gus, and we miss you.
To get geared up for the game, check out our Butler team capsule and UConn team capsule. You can find the latest NCAA Championship Game odds, as well. UConn is favored, as expected, but only slightly. If Monday is any indication, America is rooting heavily for Butler again this year, just as the general public did last year.
The Connecticut Huskies and Butler Bulldogs hit the floor on Monday night in the 2011 NCAA Championship Game, the final college basketball game of the year. Before the game gets started later this evening, it’s time for one final look at the odds to get a better idea of which team may come out on top just a few hours from now. It’s a unique championship game, with the favorites gone and a No. 3 and No. 8 seed the lone survivors after an NCAA Tournament that’s seen plenty of wild finishes and upsets on the road to Houston.
At last check, UConn remains the favorite over Butler with just a short time to go before tip-off. The Huskies opened as four-point favorites, but the line has slid towards Butler a bit, settling with UConn still three-point favorites. Movement in the line indicates bettors have been placing money on the Bulldogs, though not enough to force a drastic shift in the line.
The over/under has moved, as well, though it’s gone different directions in the two online sports books we’ve been tracking. The over/under opened at 107, but has fallen to 104 at 5Dimes and risen to 110 at Bodog. If the line is right, we should expect a game in the 50s that comes down to the final few minutes.
In a little under a month, the Connecticut Huskies have put together a run that defies logic in many ways. In a little under a month, UConn has won 10 straight games in two tournament settings, including five wins in five days to capture the Big East Tournament Championship. As an encore, the Huskies came from the No. 3 seed line to crash the Final Four part and advance to Monday night's NCAA Championship Game. To say the Huskies are streaking would be an understatement, to say the least.
UConn's done it with flaring, relying on its stars to carry the team when it mattered most. And over the last month, no star has shined brighter than Kemba Walker, the Huskies clutch junior guard. Walker has been a one-man wrecking crew at times, putting away teams with last-second shots and coming up with jaw-dropping performances almost every time he takes the floor.
In the NCAA Tournament, UConn hit another gear as freshman Jeremy Lamb came into his own and flourished. Lamb was already an efficient scorer -- his 115.2 ORtg is second on the team to Walker -- but his role continues to evolve, and UConn has been better because of it.
Efficiency is the name of the game for UConn, and its 116.4 offensive efficiency is just on the outside of the top-10 nationally. It's the same on the defensive end as UConn has held opponents to .914 points per possession, 23rd best in the NCAA.
Like Butler, UConn doesn't turn the ball over much -- 17.1 percent of the time -- and keeps opponents off the glass -- giving up offensive rebounds at a 33.4 percent rate. The Huskies don't force turnovers, either, instead forcing tough shots and, unlike Butler, blocking shots in the process. Offensive rebounds is a big part of the Huskies offense and their offensive rebounding percentage of 38.1 is in the top-10 nationally.
Athletic, long guards, capable big men and the ability to crash the glass on both ends of the floor has UConn in the 2011 NCAA Championship Game and one step from a national title. Oh, and there's that Kemba Walker fellow. You may want to keep an eye on him tonight, especially if the game goes down to the wire.
For more on the matchup, check out the rest of our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. If there was any doubt the Butler Bulldogs were more than a one-year wonder, it's been erased during the 2011 NCAA Tournament as Brad Steven has recaptured the magic and guided his team back to the NCAA Championship Game for a second consecutive year. But getting to the championship isn't enough this time around, and Butler's looking for more after coming up just short against Duke in the 2010 championship.
How did Butler make it back for the second time in as many years? After a Feb. 3 loss to Youngstown State, the Bulldogs third in as many games, something clicked for the struggling team. Since then, Stevens' squad has been perfect, running the table in Horizon League play, winning the conference tournament and rattling off five consecutive NCAA Tournament wins, all coming from the No. 8 seed line.
Butler plays a disciplined brand of basketball, limiting its turnovers, taking good shots on the offensive end and forcing tough shots on the defensive end. It shows in the Bulldogs' advanced stats, as well. Butler is efficient, posting a 112.6 offensive efficiency rating and 95.0 defensive efficiency rating. These numbers aren't eye-popping or in the upper-echelon of college basketball, but they're well above average.
The Bulldogs also turn the ball over just 17.1 percent of the time on the offensive end while playing smart basketball. On the defensive end, Butler crashes the boards, limiting opponents to an offensive rebounding percentage of 27.5 percent. They won't block shots -- Butler's block percentage of 4.5 is one of the worst in the NCAA -- but they will force tough shots, limiting opponents to 32.5 percent from beyond the arc in the process.
It's not a flashy team, or a team filled with stars, but Stevens has his Bulldogs playing at as high a level as anyone, and it's shown in the NCAA Tournament. On Monday, the Bulldogs face one more test as they take on UConn with the NCAA championship hanging in the balance. With the way Butler has been playing so far, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bulldogs cutting down the nets one more time.
For more on the matchup, check out the rest of our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream.
It's a great time to get last-minute NCAA Championship Game predictions in, and Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar took time out of his busy schedule to drop some knowledge on the world. Romar, speaking at his end of the year press conference, made his own prediction for Monday night's NCAA Tournament Championship between the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies.
You'd think Romar would stick with Connecticut, right? After all, Jim Calhoun's squad shares a mascot with Washington and we all know choosing by mascot is the trendy way to make picks. But Romar went with a pick that's been gaining momentum in the time following the Final Four: Butler.
It appears Romar roots for the underdog.
Fun picks aside, we'll be back with previews of both teams and Monday night's game in our NCAA Championship Game StoryStream. Check back with us throughout the day for more on the matchup as we get geared up for the final game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
The 2001 NCAA Championship Game has arrived, with the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies set to square off in the finale of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night. With three weeks and 66 games of basketball in the books, it all comes down to this for our two championship hopefuls. Legendary coach Jim Calhoun takes on Brad Stevens, who may be the hottest coach in college basketball after guiding the Bulldogs to the NCAA Championship Game for the second-straight year.
Are you ready for the Monday night's NCAA Championship? Get geared up with the basic game information now, followed by more in-depth previews throughout the day leading up to the game.
Game time: Butler and UConn hit the court at 6:23 p.m. PDT in the final game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It seems like tournament organizers like to go with nice round numbers when scheduling these games and the championship game is no exception.
Broadcast information: As always, CBS has the broadcasting duties for the championship. Locally, CBS can be found on KIRO-7, the Seattle affiliate for the network.
Announcers: In an effort to get geared up for The Masters -- which elicits just about the same level of excitement as the NCAA Championship -- Jim Nantz will have the play-by-play duties. Clark Kellogg will be his trusty sidekick, doing the color commentary for Monday night's game. Perhaps the statement about Nantz's excitement level was a bit of a lie. He's no Gus Johnson, after all.
Previews: We'll be back with previews and predictions, but to get a look at the two teams from a statistical side, check out our Butler team capsule and UConn team capsule from the Final Four. The information is still relevant, and relies on Ken Pomeroy's system.
For a look back at Saturday's games, check out our Final Four StoryStream. Be sure to grab a 2011 NCAA Tournament printable bracket to see how Butler and UConn made it the NCAA Championship. We'll be back with more later, so stay with this StoryStream throughout the day.