Tip time: 9:21 EDT/6:21 PDT.
The stage is set. And it is a stage, surrounded by an abyss. Lucas Oil Stadium offers one of those annoying courts that is lifted above the bench area, forcing coaches to sit on a little stool within their box, away from the team and their assistants. It also prevents players from making that daring and athletic dive out-of-bounds for a loose ball. Digressing.
Butler vs. Duke. Honestly, nobody had this match-up, did they? Maybe a few Butler fans who allowed their loyalty to cloud their view of probability–props to you Butler fans who had the instinct to pick with your heart. Butler shot the ball terribly on Saturday night, vs. a tough Michigan State squad, yet they still found a way to allow their defensive intensity create opportunities to score. The victory also solidified my man-crush on Gordon Hayward–that kid can flat out play some basketball.
In the second game, Duke cruised, knocking down 3-ball after 3-ball. For a few moments, it looked as if West Virginia might offer some fight in the waning moments of the second half. Tragically, any chance at a comeback ended abruptly when Da’Sean Butler crumbled to the floor with a torn ACL. A heart-breaking end to a wonderful college career.
Now we have a David vs. Goliath match-up. The little, local school vs. the basketball beast from tobacco road. Duke presently sits as an 8-point favorite, considering the mild concussion of Butler forward, Matt Howard. Howard, who has struggled to stay out of foul trouble in Butler’s last two match-ups, must be a factor to get the Bulldogs over the proverbial hump. Avery Jukes has to step up offensively. Ronald Nored has to step up offensively. Getting the picture?
Yes, the under-Bulldogs have a shot, because they can play defense, and they will wear on Duke as the game continues; however, can they score with the Blue Devils? I know my logic is failed, and that if I had to bet my life on the outcome, I might say something different, but like most of the non-Duke fans, I hope for honorary Butler fan status this evening!
Here’s to a great game!
(Image via: Doc’s Sports Service)