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Sports Then and Now



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 →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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