NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 04.04.11Posted by Brian Goodman on April 4th, 2011
Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.
- Many felt that it would be impossible for a mid-major to ever win a national title; nevertheless, Brad Stevens and Butler are about to turn what once was a myth into a reality. If the Bulldogs are able to cut down the nets tonight, the question emerges whether Butler can still be considered is a mid-major.
- Athletic Director Barry Collier has made it known that keeping head coach Brad Stevens is a major priority. We think that it is unlikely that Stevens goes anywhere, as his personality does not correlate with that of a mercenary head coach looking to go anywhere to make his next buck.
- Before Butler was able to advance to two consecutive national championship games, a 2007 three-way phone call between Zach Hahn, Matt Howard, and Shawn Vanzant changed the fortunes of the Bulldog program. The phone call revolved around the future of the program’s leadership when then-head coach Todd Lickliter left the school for Iowa. The three decided to give the unproven Brad Stevens a chance, and it has undoubtedly paid off.
- Matt Howard has been a great player for Butler throughout his career, but with his various quirks and his general personality, he oozees greatness in an indefinable way.
- The matchup between Shelvin Mack and Kemba Walker will likely decide the national championship. Walker is a fantastic playmaker and an an unbelievable scorer, but we acknowledge that Mack and the Bulldogs will be a tough out for Kemba and the Huskies.
- While last season against Duke felt more like a David/Goliath matchup for the Butler Bulldogs, this season they enter their national title tilt with UConn not feeling as if they are underdogs. The huge role experience plays in easing the nerves of lower seeded teams makes the argument rational, even if it doesn’t sound like it at first glance.
- After losing to Butler, giant killer VCU reflects positively on its season. The word “improbable” hardly scratches the surface when describing the Rams’ run, and a Final Four berth is something the team will always get to cherish.
- Despite falling to the Bulldogs, VCU’s fans remain proud of what their team accomplished. Shaka Smart could have taken the approach of “playing with house money” after Selection Sunday and nobody would have blamed him, but he and his team quickly altered the perception of the Rams.
- It’s common during March Madness to see mayors or governors of opposing tournament team communities make informal wagers on the outcomes of their games. In a slight tweak of this tradition, former Kentucky wildcat Rajon Rondo has to root for the Huskies after losing a bet with UConn legend Ray Allen. The spoils for Allen include watching his teammate take shootaround in UConn gear.
- Kentucky fans are left to ponder who from this season’s team stays and who leaves. The Wildcats were flush with NBA talent, but the uncertainty of the NBA’s future leaves a faint glimmer of hope for those wanting to see more of Brandon Knight and company in Lexington.
- The phrase “there’s always next year” rings true at Kentucky, where even if players like Knight and Terrence Jones wave bye-bye, the Wildcats will again be loaded with young talent next season.
- Despite signs to the contrary, Kemba Walker cracked open the window of returning to UConn next season, citing the desire to win back-to-back titles should the Huskies cut down the nets in Houston tonight. My advice to Huskies fans: Don’t hold your breath.
- Jeremy Lamb‘s meteoric ascension has been crucial for the Huskies in helping Kemba Walker shoulder the burden of production on UConn’s road to the championship game. Only last season was Lamb riding the bench in high school as a reserve senior, but now, some prognosticators are talking about him possibly jumping to the pros this summer.