College Basketball’s Big Dogs
Monday night’s National Title men’s basketball game between Butler and UConn was one of the worst played contests in recent memory. The Bulldogs finished the game with a shooting percentage of just 18%, a new record for futility in an NCAA Championship. In those last twenty minutes, the postseason champions from the Horizon League looked like a team that did not belong on the same court as their more powerful opponents from the Big East.
It is a shame that Butler saved their worst performance for the biggest night of the postseason tournament. All of the talk leading up to the game was how a small program from a small conference belonged with the big boys. There was even some talk comparing Butler to the 1966 Texas Western team. Instead of Butler making history in Houston, Huskies fans were enjoying their own milestones after the final buzzer. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun became only the fifth coach in history to win three titles. He joins an elite club with such legendary coaches as John Wooden, Adoph Rupp, Mike Kryzewski, and Bobby Knight. At 68 years of age, Calhoun also became the oldest coach to win a National Championship.
The UConn win also shows just how tough it is for a small school to win a National Championship. Villanova won as an 8th seed in 1985, but the Big East power was hardly a small program at the time. Even when UNLV from The Big West won a title 20 years ago, their roster was filled with future NBA stars. That’s why Texas Western’s win in 1966 is still the greatest victory by a small college in the history of the National Championship. The Miners will always hold their special place in basketball, and fans will have to wait at least another season to see if Cinderalla can knock off her bigger stepsister on the biggest stage in college basketball.