Strap in because we are about to be treated to an epic national title game between Connecticut and Butler. Read on to get our take on how it will play out.
Look, you already know all the key questions, storylines and match-ups for tonight’s game:
• Who will win the battle of point guards: Kemba Walker or Shelvin Mack?
• Can Butler compete on the boards with a bigger UConn team?
• Which role players for UConn (Shabazz Napier, Alex Oriakhi) and Butler (Andrew Smith, Ronald Nored) will play better?
• Who will come up with the better defensive game plan: Jim Calhoun or Brad Stevens?
Yes, those will all be huge factors in the game. But when there’s such an even match-up like this, it normally comes down to who gives the greater effort and believes they will win.
We aren’t suggesting that Connecticut doesn’t want to win as badly as Butler but even Kemba Walker admitted the Huskies were gassed playing Kentucky. After all, this is their 11th game in 27 days. Meanwhile, Butler looked like they were just getting warmed up in defeating a VCU team that was red-hot and had just crushed Kansas. This game’s going to be a test of wills and you can bet in every timeout tonight, Stevens will remind his players they were inches away from a national title last year and to remember the sick feeling they’ve had for the last 12 months.
We also trust Butler more in a final-second situation. Yes, the Huskies are brimming with confidence after winning 10 games in a row. But sometimes it appears Butler CAN’T lose. Like the ridiculous final sequence in the Old Dominion game, the bone-headed foul by Pitt’s Nasir Robinson that advanced Butler to the Sweet Sixteen and coming back from 11 down to defeat Florida in the Elite Eight.
We like a low-scoring slugfest with Mack hitting the game-winning shot Gordon Heyward missed to give the Bulldogs the 2011 national title. Who knows? With all the breaks Butler has gotten so far, Mack’s game-winner just might be from half court.
Butler 61, Connecticut 59