Monday, April 5, 2010

Is Match-Up Butler vs Duke, "David & Goliath"?

Many analysts who don't like fairy tales will say that Butler (33-4) is no Cinderella, and that the #5 Seed is nationally ranked and been there before.  But lets make it clear when a small school, yes small, approximately 4512 student enrollment, beats the #1 and #2 teams in their bracket and holds off other aspiring programs along the way.   And then entering the Final Four against a Tom Izzo coached and experienced team, to come out the victor is a Cinderella story rather you want to hear it or not.  Tell me when the last team of this size won a national basketball title at the division 1 level.

Now you have them playing the #1 Duke (34-5) Blue Devils going for national title number four, by the way, Duke's enrollment is 13,457.  Data provided through the "Equity in Athletics" reveals that Duke spent over $394,000 per player last year, Butler spent just over $347,000 on the entire team.  The ACC versus the Horizon League opens the question of the quality of one of the leagues if this is not an unprecedented match up of statistical opposites.  Butler is on a 25 game winning streak and has shot an average of 39% from the field during the tournament with its' opponents shooting at an average of 41%.  Duke shoots 50.3% from the field and scores an average of 69 points per game, a mere 15 points above the Butler defensive limits per game.  But if some of these insignificant stats don't blow you away, let's look at Duke's lineup, 7'1" Brian Zoubek, 6'8" Lance Thomas, 6'10" Miles and Mason Plumlee and 6'8" Kyle Singler for the primary swing to post rotation, against Butler 6'9" Matt Howard, 6'9" Gordon Hayward, 6'3" William Veasle, 6'8" Andrew Jukes, the 6'11" Freshman Andrew Smith rarely plays in close games.  Duke has blown through the tournament, Butler has been in a war just about each time out, but capable of controlling the game down the stretch.

But remember, David did defeat Goliath in the classic biblical altercation.  Regardless of the analysis, with a 33 year old head coach, Brad Stevens, who was 3 years old when legendary Coach "K" took over as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils at the age of 33, matching strategies there is a gross disparity in the championship coaching experience adding another lopsided variable in favor of Duke.

Basketball analyst have Duke favored in tangible areas such as Starting Backcourt, Starting Frontcourt, Bench Strength, and Coaching.  But USA Today gives Butler the edge in the intangibles (hustle, defense, free throw shooting and find ways to win).  Both teams have held their opponents to an average of less than 60 points, with Butler not allowing a single team to exceed 60 points.  So how does David (Butler) beat Goliath (Duke)?  Play a near perfect game the Butler was with Hustle, Defense, Rebound and Control the clock and limit Duke's possession.  Butler will have to challenge every shot and make the Duke post players beat you and don't allow the offense to come from the Big Three, Smith, Singler and Scheyer.

Butler is the Cinderella and this game should end before midnight, so don't count this group out, remember they have found a way to win 25 consecutive games dating back to late December.  A Butler win will be one for the ages.


  1. Wise men learn by other mens mistakes; fools by their own.......................................................