Madness ends in ugliness

Thanks to the worst performance in championship game history by Butler, the UConn Huskies cruised their way to an NCAA title. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, user American Odyssey)

In an NCAA Tournament marked by inspirational stories, spectacular individual efforts, captivating Cinderella runs and expecting the unexpected, it ended with perhaps the worst title game in March Madness history.

The UConn Huskies prevailed in the “dog fight” over the Butler Bulldogs, 53-41. No, this is not a half time score, this was the final score.

Although the Huskies played great the first five games of the tournament, they essentially won this game by default. They had their worst performance of the Big Dance, but Butler had one of the worst performances ever seen.

Butler shot 18.8 percent from the field for the game, going 12-64, an all-time low in a championship game. Nine of their 12 made shots were from behind the arc, meaning 27 of the 41 points were from three. They only scored two points in the paint the entire game, and that came late in the second half. They were certainly up against a good defense with shot-blocking capabilities, but they missed wide open shots all night from point blank range. It was embarrassing and painful to watch at times.

Butler’s stars Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack were a combined 5-28 from the field. Howard looked like he was lost out on the court all night.

UConn wasn’t much better. They shot 34.5 percent, which is the lowest ever percentage for a winning team. The Huskies were an appalling 1-11 from three-point range. Unlike Butler, most of their points came from in the paint, as they took advantage of their size.

UConn’s First-team All-American point guard Kemba Walker went 5-19 from the floor and 0-4 from long range. This was his worst game perhaps all season.

Apparently someone forgot to tell these guys it was a national championship game that was actually being televised for the world to see.

Regardless of the ugliness and the unthinkably low shooting percentages, the UConn Huskies are your 2011 national champions. They truly were a team of destiny, going a perfect 14-0 in tournament play over the course of the season, including the Maui Invitational, the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies went an astounding 5-0 in the Big East Championship to take the crown, the first team to ever do so, and followed it up with six more wins in the Big Dance. They won their last 11 games of the season, all of which were elimination games.

For a team that was unranked at the beginning of the season and not predicted to be a contender in the Big East, that is pretty remarkable. Walker seemingly came out of nowhere to become the nation’s second-leading scorer and a national player of the year candidate.

On the other side of the spectrum you have Butler as your national runner-up for the second consecutive year. Their remarkable runs give every mid-major squad across the country hope. They took down five big-time opponents two years in a row before falling to Duke in 2010 and UConn in 2011.

And let’s not forget VCU was just one game away from also playing for a national championship.

The days of one and two seeds dominating the tournament are gone. Although none of the mid-majors teams are yet to win it all, they are getting closer and closer each year. It will only be a matter of time.

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