Butler's not '83 N.C. State or '85 Villanova

Staff writerApril 5, 2010 

ESPN's Hannah Storm asked Doug Gottlieb on SportsCenter this morning if Butler could pull off an historic upset, like N.C. State or Villanova, in tonight's national championship game.

Hold the analogous phone right now.

To compare Butler to either the 1983 N.C. State team or the 1985 Villanova team is insulting on all sides, not to mention downright wrong when you factor the Goliath portion of the equation.

For starters, Butler entered the tournament at 28-4 ranked No. 11 in the country. Butler, despite its No. 5 seed, is, and has been all season, one of the best teams in the country. This is not a "Hoosiers" miracle, no matter how many times the analogy is made.

N.C. State, a No. 6 seed, started the NCAA tournament with a 20-10 record, and quite frankly, was lucky to be there after winning three ACC tournament games by 11 total points. Because of injuries and their own inconsistencies, N.C. State was not one of the top teams in its own conference, let alone in the country, during the season.

Villanova, a No. 8 seed, began its title run with a 19-10 record. The Wildcats finished fourth in the Big East, at 0-7, behind the No. 1 (Georgetown), No. 3 (St. John's) and No. 15 (Syracuse) teams in the country. They didn't win the regular season or the conference tournament.

Both N.C. State and Villanova were good teams who got hot and made unlikely, epic runs to the national title.

Butler's a good team, that has been good all season, that has beaten some good teams to get the title game.

Which brings us to Butler's opponent. Duke (34-5) is a team its own coach refuses to label great. When you lose to the 11th-place ACC team (N.C. State) by 14 and the seventh-place Big East team (Georgetown) by 12, there's no sense in claiming greatness.

In 1983, N.C. State faced a Houston team that was 31-2 and in the middle of three-year run at the Final Four.

In 1985, Villanova faced a Georgetown team that was the defending national champion, had a 35-2 record — with two wins over the same Villanova team — and also went to the Final Four in 1982.

Oh yeah, and both Houston and Georgetown had a dominant, all-timer at center in Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, respectively.

Those games featured a true dynamic between an underdog vs. an overwhelming favorite. Maybe if Kentucky, with John Wall, had been waiting in the title game, we could give Butler at least half of the analogy.

The only commonality Butler has with those two historic teams is that Vegas has installed them as a 7.5-point underdog.

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