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Duke vs. Butler: The Big School Nightmare Comes True 1

Posted on April 04, 2010 by Dean Hybl
NCAA Final Four - Butler v Michigan State

With fewer than 4,000 undergraduate students, Butler University has a smaller total enrollment than the typical freshman class at most of the large public schools that usually are playing for NCAA Division I titles.

For the first time since 1985, the two teams facing off for the NCAA men’s basketball championship will both be representing private institutions. If Butler University is able to come away with the national title it will take a monumental performance akin to what Villanova pulled off against the mighty Georgetown Hoyas 25 years ago.

Typically, the Division I men’s basketball championship is controlled by large public schools with undergraduate enrollments in the tens of thousands.

That will not be the case in 2010 as the combined undergraduate enrollment of Butler and Duke is right around 10,000. There are another 8,000 or so graduate students between the two schools, but even that combined total is only about equal to the number of undergraduate students at 2010 champion North Carolina and well below the undergraduate totals for other recent champions Kansas and Florida.

In fact, other than Duke with three championships, the only other private school to win the NCAA men’s basketball title since 1985 was Syracuse University in 2003.

That a private school will win the title this year amid all the talk of tournament expansion is great irony because the tournament expansion will likely make it even harder for these small, private schools to compete with all the big public universities and their massive enrollments and athletic budgets.

While Duke has bucked the public school trend before, it is the presence of Butler in the title game that strikes the most fear among the big boy conferences because this program from the Horizon League is indeed their worst nightmare. Read the rest of this entry →

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