The 2011 NCAA Tournament concludes tonight in Houston, as we’ve reached the final two teams who will battle it out for the national championship trophy.
What a ride it has been for both of these teams, and although they’ve been superb in getting to this point, none of that really matters if they can’t seal the deal and find a way to be crowned the 2011 national champions.
We all know the stories for both sides. For UConn, they’ve been the premier tournament team in college basketball this season. They’ve got a Maui Invitational title under their belt. They’ve got a Big East title under their belt. And now, they’re looking to add the ultimate prize to their list of accomplishments this season.
And should they find a way to win this game, the performance by Kemba Walker over the last month or so will have to go down as one of the best in NCAA post-season history.
I know we’re quick to declare things the best or one of the best sometimes, but there’s no doubt in my mind about this one. Considering that this team finished ninth in the Big East, and had to win five games in five days to win their conference tournament…..and now are only one win away from a national title, well, that’s just amazing. Kemba’s been the man during this stretch
On the other side, you’ve got a Butler team that has done the unthinkable. Very few college basketball fans believed that the Bulldogs could get back here…..ever. But only one year later, and here they are once again, only 40 minutes away from a national championship.
The experience that Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard gained from last year’s run has been crucial in their success in this tournament, and like Kemba, these two guys will not let their team lose.
And that’s where these two teams have really shined this post-season. No matter what the situation is, they’ve created the feeling that they simply will find a way to get the job done. That’s the attitude that both teams have conveyed during the stretch run of this tournament, and that’s why they are where they are right now.
Which, of course, makes picking a winner in this game extremely difficult.
But again, let’s no kid ourselves here. We all know who this is coming down to, and who are the players that have to be huge for their teams to win.
Butler’s faced a lot of fantastic teams in this tournament, but haven’t seen a player like Kemba. There’s just no way to simulate in practice what he’s going to do in a game. The guy is that good. Preparing for him is almost impossible.
When you think about it though, preparing for Mack and Howard is a pretty tough task as well. It’s all the little things that these guys do that set them apart, and it’s those intangibles that have allowed the Bulldogs to make it to a second straight title game.
We have to expect that all three of these players are going to be fantastic tonight. Let’s not forget about Jeremy Lamb either. We have to throw him into that same category, as he’s been outstanding for this UConn team, and has taken some of the defensive pressure off of Kemba with his stellar play.
So then we turn to the potential X-factors. Could it be Alex Oriakhi inside for the Huskies? Or maybe it’s Shawn Vanzant getting great looks for Butler due to the defensive focus on Mack and Howard.
It’s just really, really hard to get a feel for how this one will turn out. Knowing what we know about both teams and the type of road they’ve faced to get here, I mean, how can you pick just one?
Well folks, we know that both teams can’t win, so there’s gotta be a choice here.
I love great stories. UConn’s run to get to this point, with Kemba leading the way, is an awesome story. But, the Butler one is better.
I honestly do not know how they keep doing it, but they do. The way these guys play defense is just incredible, and I have no clue how they are going to contain Kemba. But I’m confident that they can to the point where they can win this game.
Given the run that they’ve made this post-season, picking against Kemba and UConn is probably pretty silly.
But picking against a team that’s done this two year’s in a row, and is itching to taste championship glory for the first time ever would be even more silly.
Prediction: Butler 61, UConn 57
And there’s the pick. Be sure to join us tonight right here on Busting Brackets for live blog coverage of the game, as our crew will break down all the action as it happens.
Who are you picking to win this game?
Who Will Win the 2011 National Championship?
- Butler (65%, 220 Votes)
- UConn (35%, 118 Votes)
Total Voters: 338
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