With Saturday’s semi-final games completed, college basketball’s best ever storybook has just one more chapter to complete.
The final game.
And Butler, the ultimate Cinderella could not have a more appropriate opponent than Duke—college basketball’s most envied and reviled program.
Butler basketball is the equivalent of Boise State football.
The two are extremely successful “mid-major” schools which have fought years for respect. The difference though is that unlike Boise State’s football team, on Monday night, Butler gets a chance to prove its worthiness in the championship game.
Even better, Butler gets to play it at home in Indianapolis.
But get one thing straight: this is no gladiator mismatch.
Butler earned its way into the final game against Duke. The Bulldogs have won five-straight tournament games. And have held every opponent under 60 points.
Importantly too, since December, the Bulldogs have won 25 games in a row.
Still, Duke represents the biggest hurdle yet for Butler basketball.
On it’s side, Duke has legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is far and away college basketball’s best coach. And as usual Duke has a collection of some of the best players in the nation.
Duke basketball is America’s most successful college sports program over the last 25 years.
But the rub is that Duke gets under your skin.
First of all they win too much for some people, winning three national championships and 12 Final Four appearances over the past quarter century.
And to make matters worse, too often Duke teams come off as just a little too smart and entitled, with the referees seemingly always calling it the Blue Devils way.
But rest assured, Duke’s game against Butler will be a fight. To those who don’t know or who haven’t been paying attention, Butler has been planning on going to this Monday night party for at least 15 years.
The school has been steadily building a basketball program that can compete with anyone.
Butler has won more games than any college basketball team in the state of Indiana over the last decade. More games than Indiana, more than Purdue and more than Notre Dame.
But few noticed and it seems, even fewer cared. The name on the jersey said Butler, which simply meant to the uninformed that these guys can’t really be that good.
But if you believe in the magic of sports and what your own eyes have actually seen, then keep an open mind about how the Butler-Duke championship game plays out.
One of basketball’s biggest ever stories happened in the city of Indianapolis more than 50 years ago.
An even bigger and better story will happen Monday night should Butler beat Duke.