Butler upends #1-seed Pitt in a bizarre ending

University of Pittsburgh’s Gary McGhee (L) goes to the basket against Butler University’s Matt Howard during the first half of their third round NCAA basketball game in Washington, March 19, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Since 2003, only one #8-seed (Alabama, 2004) has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. It’s a tough thing to do because of that second round matchup against a #1 seed.

Last year’s Cinderella, the Butler Bulldogs, just joined Alabama by beating top-seed Pitt, 71-70.

Butler took the lead with under three seconds to play on an Andrew Smith layup, and as Pitt’s Gilbert Brown caught the long inbounds pass along the sideline, Butler’s Shelvin Mack ran into him and was called for a foul. Brown made the first to tie the game, but missed the second, and on the rebound Butler’s Matt Howard was fouled by Nasir Robinson. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second to give the Bulldogs the victory.

Both fouls were monumentally ill-advised and I’m being kind to phrase it that way because these are college kids and not professionals. In those situations, you don’t want to put the ref into a position to make a call like that. Mack’s poor decision came on the fly, but Robinson should have known that the game was at worst heading to overtime and kept his hands off of Howard.

Mack scored 30 points to lead the way for the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, the Panthers shot 55% from the field and outrebounded Butler, 31-21, and still found a way to lose this game.

All along, I thought the Southeast region was the toughest to predict. I didn’t really like Pitt as a Final Four team, but Florida, BYU, Wisconsin and Kansas State all have their flaws as well. I wouldn’t be shocked if Butler made a repeat appearance in the Final Four. They execute really well and obviously have last year’s experience to draw upon.

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