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Butler vs. Connecticut is Fitting End to Unpredictable Season 11

Posted on April 03, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack have led Butler to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Championship Games.

What happens when you get a second crack at a “once in a lifetime” moment? Well, the Butler University Bulldogs will find out Monday night when the unlikeliest of super teams returns to the NCAA Championship Game for the second straight year.

Anyone who follows college basketball even a little knows that the Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils in the 2010 title game and came a rimmed out half court shot away from claiming the national title.

Now, after defeating another mid-major Cinderella in VCU in the national semifinals, the Bulldogs are back on the main stage. This time they face the University of Connecticut and two-time national championship coach Jim Calhoun.

Interestingly, what both teams have in common is that for portions of the 2011 season both squads were looking more like they might meet in the NIT than in the NCAA Championship Game.

After a hot early start, Connecticut lost four of their final five regular season games and sank to the bottom half of the Big East standings. As a result, they had to win an unprecedented five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament.

At one point during the season Butler was 14-9 overall and 6-5 in conference play and didn’t look like they would have any shot at another run to the title game.

However, the Bulldogs won their final seven regular season games and then claimed the Horizon League Tournament title to secure a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

While the Big East Tournament run by Connecticut raised their tournament seeding to a number three spot and got them some respect in bracket pools across the country, the Bulldogs didn’t have quite the same experience. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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