Posted by Irregaahhdless
At this point, I don’t remember if I picked Butler (a 12 seed at the time) to beat Florida in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. I just remember — as happens to me often, regardless of what my bracket picks are — that I wanted the Bulldogs to win. (I do enjoy myself some upsets.) And when Florida’s Mike Miller missed being called for a charge by thismuch and hit a game-winner to thwart a game effort by Butler, 69-68, I remember swearing at the TV. A couple of times. The undersized and undermanned Bulldogs had played just about the perfect game. And the reward for that? The same trip home what the No. 16 seed that loses by 35 gets. Something was wrong with that.
I won’t say that I was hooked on Butler at that point — or, for that matter, that I’m hooked now — but the Bulldogs definitely fit in that “Oh, they’re back in the tourney? Yeah, I hope they win” team for me. Year after year. I mean, we all have teams like that, don’t we? A crew from whom you can barely name anyone of significance from the past decade, yet when they win a big game in the tourney, they get a little something extra on the fist pump. I just sorta liked ’em a little bit more than the standard root-for-the-underdog crew. Something about that loss 10 years ago made me want something big for them — like that would somehow make the “injustice” from 2000 all OK.
Well, you can’t get much bigger than playing for the national championship, which the Bulldogs will do Monday night. (Seriously, Butler is playing for the NATIONAL FUCKING CHAMPIONSHIP. Everyone can come out and say, “This is a Top 10 team in the preseason polls.” And that’s totally accurate. But, you know, still, this is Butler. And this is the national championship game. If you don’t think that’s kinda awesome, stop watching sports.)
So, it’s safe to say that no matter what happens Monday night, Butler, the NCAA Tournament gods and I are all cool now. (And, by the way, props to Butler head coach Brad Stevens for recently receiving his driver’s license. I’m sure that was a big day for him.) That damn-we-shoulda-won-it game in 2000 is well in the rearview mirror now. And I’ll bet that the guys who suffered the heartbreak on that day — who, for all intents and purposes, have as pretty big hand in what’s gone on this season — are enjoying this tourney run almost as much as the guys who are taking the court. And they should.
Well done, Bulldogs. One more to go. Now, if you wouldn’t mind beating Duke by, like, 87, that’d be perfect. Thanks.