Butler heads home — to the Final Four

Butler upended K-State, 63-56, and will head home to Indianapolis for the Final Four next weekend.

Kansas State was out of sync early on, and couldn’t buy a bucket for long periods of the first half. Every analyst seems to think they were tired from Thursday night’s double-OT win over Xavier, but these are 19-, 20-, and 21-year old kids we’re talking about, so fatigue shouldn’t be that much of a factor, especially considering that K-State is a pretty deep team.

Butler controlled the game for most of the way, but there was a nearly five-minute stretch in the second half where the Bulldogs didn’t score a field goal, which allowed the Wildcats to claw back into the game. Butler turned the ball over 11 times in the second half (19 in the game), but didn’t have a single turnover in the final four and a half minutes after Kansas State regained the lead.

Butler made up for its sometimes sloppy offensive play by hitting almost 47% from three (7-15) and getting to the line 20 times (six more than K-State). They also played solid defense throughout the game, though K-State missed a lot of bunnies; Butler’s defense was outstanding on the final few possessions.

Brad Stevens (33) has to be one of the youngest coaches (if not the youngest) to make a Final Four, and he’ll get to do it in Butler’s hometown of Indianapolis. I’m not sure they’ll be much of a home court advantage as the Final Four crowd is usually heavy in non-partisan corporate types. The Bulldogs have a real shot at playing in the title game as both of their potential opponents — Michigan State and Tennessee — are very beatable.

This is the third time in five years (George Mason ’06, Memphis ’08) that a mid-major has made the Final Four. Prior to that, there was a stretch of seven years (Utah ’98) where only “power” conference teams made it to the national semifinals.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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