Last year Butler were a half-court heave from beating Duke to the national title but this year the boot was on the other foot as Duke left the Big Dance at the Sweet Sixteen stage as Butler horrible 2010/11 record in tow made the elite eight. Duke one of the national title favorites is gone and Butler moves on to face Florida.
Since last year’s final, Duke have been almost unstoppable holding a 30-4 record coming into March Madness whilst Butler struggled through the regular season losing four of their first eight games and then three on the bounce at the end of January. If ever a team looked destined to crack under the pressure of the previous season it was Butler.
Since that last defeat at YSU on February 3rd they have won twelve straight and are now looking at an Elite Eight showdown with Wisconsin. The drive has been slow to build but Brad Stevens the Butler coach had faith in the players’ abilities and now that they are putting their plays together and starting to click few would be surprised to see them pull off another shock against Florida and reach a second consecutive Final Four.
Not many would pick Butler as the most talented team in the competition but with so many good players that work hard, fight for every yard and don’t know how to give up their relentless energy and roughness ensures that opponents are always in a fight. In Mack and Howard they have two probably first round draft picks who help elevate the team from dogged fighters to true contenders.
Butler have talent and they aren’t afraid to use it. It should be a great matchup against Florida and the Gators will need to be at their best to knock out last year’s Cinderella.