The UConn Huskies and the Butler Bulldogs will play for the national championship on Monday night. This matchup is not the one that many experts predicted, but it will provide an entertaining championship game.
While both teams have played well enough to get this far, only one can be crowned national champions of the college basketball world. The Bulldogs may be considered a Cinderella, but when the night is over, they will be the best team in basketball.
The latest odds for this game has the Huskies listed as 3.5-point favorites.
The Huskies are picked to win this game due to how well they are playing. The Huskies have a very talented team, led by Kemba Walker, but the Bulldogs should be favored in this game for more than one reason.
The first reason is experience.
After all, the Butler Bulldogs played in this game last year. They played the Duke Blue Devils to the wire and were a last-minute shot away from being the national champs. Now they basically return the same team and they will be ready for the pressure of the big game.
The Bulldogs become the lowest-seeded team to play for the national title since Villanova won it in 1985, also as a No. 8 seed. They hope they will repeat the feat in 2011.
Shelvin Mack scored 24 points in the win over Virginia Commonwealth to advance to the championship game. Mack has become a vocal leader and spark plug for this feisty Bulldog team.
The scrappy defensive attack leads with Mack, who should wreak havoc while defending the Huskies guards. Mack and the rest of the Bulldogs will attempt to take advantage of the few weaknesses that the Huskies have shown of late.
Kemba Walker is one of the better players in the country and is the leader of the Huskies. He averages over 23 points a game and he will get his in the big game.
The Bulldogs will focus on shutting down his supporting cast, as that is the way to take down the Huskies. Walker will become one of the best players to wear a UConn uniform, but the Bulldogs will attempt to stop him from winning a championship.
The three-point shot has become a deadly weapon for the Huskies that can crush the opposing team if they are hit in succession. The Huskies used the trey to their advantage in the big win over Arizona, and they will need the three-pointer if they plan on beating Butler.
The Huskies were miserable from beyond the arc against Kentucky and just converted 1-of-12 attempts in the game. They will have to improve on that number in this game if they have hopes of cutting down the nets.
The Bulldogs have a force down low with senior Matt Howard. He is a big player who can rebound, but also float to the outside to hit the deep shot. This versatility will stretch the Huskies defense and force them to open up lanes.
This could give the advantage to a Butler team that will run offensive sets that opens up lanes with its passing to create open shots. Alex Oriakhi is a worker inside for the Huskies, and watching how he handles the inside game of Butler could be the deciding factor in this game.
The Huskies showed in the game against Kentucky that they struggle late in the game in protecting a lead.
On several late possessions, the Huskies turned the ball over when trying to drive the lane. The Huskies did not produce good looks late in the game, which could be costly against Butler.
Both of these teams deserve high praise for making it to the championship game. It is a shame that only one will be the winner when both have fought so hard to get this far.
Brad Stevens is one of the hottest young coaches in the country for the job he has done while at Butler. This game will come down to the last minute and will come down to execution with the game on the line.
The Bulldogs will win with a constant defensive pressure and cut down the nets in Houston. The Bulldogs will be the 2011 college basketball national champions.
Final: Butler 63, UConn 61
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at email@example.com.