Louisville is the only team in the country to have beaten both of the teams playing in tonight's national championship game, defeating the duo of Butler and Connecticut a total of three times by a combined 29 points. It's yet another bitter pill to swallow when taking into account the way U of L's season ended. Alas, the show goes on.
So who are we for tonight? Here are the relevant facts:
--Connecticut has conference unity on its side. The Huskies, who finished 9th in the Big East with a .500 record of 9-9, have already silenced many of the league's critics who were thumping their respective chests after the first weekend of the tournament. Another win would give UConn unquestionably the most impressive postseason run in college basketball history (11 straight wins in four weeks) and put to bed the "Big East hasn't won a national championship since" talk.
--It seemed like Butler's national runner-up season of a year ago was destined to be remembered as college basketball's modern miracle, but a national title for the program a year later as a No. 8 seed would (and I'm not overstating this) change the game forever. The Bulldogs would forever be mentioned when the topic of sports "Cinderellas" or "all-time underdogs" arises, and would also serve as a perennial teaching lesson on the benefits of "doing things the right way." In an era where many people think the game we love is on a fast-track to an unspeakably dark place, there might not be anything better than a Butler national title.
--Shelvin Mack, Butler's star, is a Kentucky kid who has made both local powers a bit foolish for glossing over him. He's also, by all accounts, a great person.
--Brad Stevens vs. Jim Calhoun in an integrity-off. I'll let you pick the winner.
Given everything laid out above, I'm rooting for Butler. Although I won't deny that I'm forever indebted to UConn for keeping this a world worth living in.
I also think the Bulldogs win, which, as we saw on Saturday and throughout this season, means nothing.