Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Duke Wins Title; Butler Wins Respect

Posted on April 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl
NCAA Championship Game: Butler v Duke

Gordon Hayward and Butler came up just short of winning the NCAA title.

While Duke University officially won the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship with a 61-59 victory over Butler University, there were truly no losers on the court.

Butler came up just short of their storybook ending, but the Bulldogs will forever live in basketball lore as the little team that played gloriously on the big stage.

Though neither Duke nor Butler has more than 8,000 undergraduate students, this was a battle of the big establishment of college basketball against an upstart program from a little conference.

Butler proved throughout the 2010 NCAA Tournament that they truly belonged with the “big boys” of college basketball.

That they nearly pulled off the shocking upset of perennial contender Duke illustrates that the gap between the “big boys” and the “little schools” in today’s college basketball is very minimal.

With two likely NBA players and a strong supporting cast, Butler’s team in 2010 was as legitimate a contender for the NCAA Championship as any squad in the country.

There have been higher scoring and perhaps better played NCAA title games, but the battle between Duke and Butler was a heavyweight fight in which neither team backed down.

The largest lead of the game was a six-point bulge by Duke in the first half (26-20) and in the second half the largest margin was only five points.

Instead of one team pulling away, this was a back and forth game in which both teams took turns making the big shot.

Duke led 60-55 with 3:16 remaining in the game, but Matt Howard made a pair of layups to cut the margin to a single point.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke claimed their fourth NCAA title and first in nine years.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke claimed their fourth NCAA title and first in nine years.

Having made it to the finals through their tenacious defense, the Bulldogs came up big defensively in the final minutes and had the ball and a chance to win the title in the final seconds.

Gordon Hayward’s final drive with three seconds remaining was on-line, but hit the back of the rim and fell to Duke center Brian Zoubek, who was immediately fouled.

Zoubek made one of two foul shots (the only Duke point in the final 3:16) to make it a two point game with three seconds remaining.

The final attempt by Hayward from nearly half court was tantalizingly close to being the most memorable shot in NCAA history as it hit the rim before falling away to give Duke the title.

What should strike fear in the rest of the college basketball world is that unless superstar sophomores Hayward and Shelvin Mack, the Bulldogs could be even better in 2011.

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