Butler Bulldogs vs. Virginia Commonwealth Rams
The Butler Bulldogs are 3-point favorites over the Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the most unexpected Final Four matchup ever.Â Â The over/under total for the game is set at 133.Â The favorites are all gone.Â None of the first or second seeds are heading to Houston this weekend for the Final Four. In a tournament rife with upsets, it’s only fitting that the two schools tipping the Final Four are the ones that did the most work to overturn status quo.
The Butler Bulldogs made a remarkable run through the Southeast Region, knocking off the first-, second- and fourth-seeded teams along the way.Â Underdogs in all four-tournament games, last Saturday’s win in the regional final was Butler’s 13th straight win to punch a return ticket to the Final Four. As extraordinary as the Bulldogs have been, VCU have been one of the greatest stories in tournament history, let alone this year’s event.Â The team that was never even supposed to get an invite to this year’s dance is now a win away from playing for it all. The Rams, like the Bulldogs, have been underdogs throughout the madness starting with there First Four game verses USC. VCU’s five-game assault on the court and has seen 1-, 3-, 6-, 10- and 11-seeds fall to the wayside.Â As impressive as their wins of both Georgetown and Purdue were, the Rams saved their best for last Sunday with a 71-61 whipping of Kansas, the final top seed left in the tournament.Â The final score wasn’t indicative of how convincingly Virginia Commonwealth beat the Jayhawks.
Butlers four victories in the tournament are by a combined 14 points, a much different route than VCU who has been blowing everyone out. There hasn’t been anything pretty about Butler’s wins in the boxscores.Â The Bulldogs have shot progressively worse from all areas on the court since escaping with the 71-70 win versus Pittsburgh to advance to the Sweet 16.Â Florida had fewer turnovers, more steals and blocks, hit its free throws at a higher rate and shot better from the field overall in the Southeast Region Final. Still, Butler won the game in overtime, 74-71. Holding Florida to just one field goal the last six-plus minutes of regulation and working the offensive glass the entire game, especially late, pushed the Bulldogs to Houston.
I am taking the Butler Bulldogs minus the 3-points in the game o Saturday due to the fact that I believe experience will take its toll.Â Butler, who was in the Final Four last season, will not be overwhelmed by the situation or the game.Â They were one shot away last year from the National Championship.Â This experience will once again lead them to a title game on Monday verse either Kentucky or UConn.
Butler Bulldogs -3 Virginia Commonwealth Rams