After Jimmer-mania, Isiah Thomas being “cold blooded”, the fall of Duke, and Shaka Smart’s Cinderella story, it all comes down to this. Two teams nobody expected to be in Houston will play for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The drama is only getting started.
One last push UConn head coach Jim Calhoun said Kemba Walker was physically and emotionally spent after the Huskies’ Final Four victory over Kentucky on Saturday night. Before writing off Connecticut, College Basketball betting fans have to ask themselves one question: do you really believe he doesn’t have one more big performance in him? The 10 game winning streak, dating back to the Big East Tournament, has taken a lot out of Connecticut. I thought it would see them exit March Madness early but rather than fade, the Huskies have fed off the energy of winning. Normally I’d say that only gets a team so far but both UConn and Butler have essentially put that to bed.
While UConn’s run has been impressive, the Bulldogs have been in survival mode even longer. From the start of the Horizon League tournament it’s been a case of win or go home for Butler. Brad Stevens has worked his magic again in 2011, bringing the underdogs back to the National Championship game.
Defensive might vs cold-blooded daggers This contest couldn’t be a greater battle of wills. Kemba Walker is the greatest assassin in College Basketball today. While he’s come up against bigger name programs this season, he hasn’t faced a test on this scale. The Bulldogs are, quite simply, awesome on defense. While Butler don’t possess power-conference level offensive skills, their ability to stop opponents’ scoring is second to none. Butler have taken down some quality opponents on the route to Houston and won’t fear the Huskies.
The Verdict Jim Calhoun is used to winning on the biggest stage of them all. Brad Stevens is a remarkable coach with an 11-3 NCAA Tournament record, including making it to last year’s title game. Both of these teams have veteran talent that won’t be overawed by the occasion. That makes for a potential classic. When it comes to the crunch I expect a close battle throughout tonight. Don’t expect too many long scoring runs from either team. This should be tight from the start and stay that way until the closing moments. The in game management of Stevens should prove to be the decisive factor. He has shown a tremendous ability to make adjustments on the fly and I like him to make the right moves for Butler to win as +3.5 underdogs with Sports Interaction.