Posted on: April 5, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 10:33 pm

So you're saying there's a chance?

Thomas Beisner

We're just 20 minutes away from crowning the 2010 national champion and, to the surprise of many, the Horizon League representatives are close enough to taste the NCAA approved beverage locker shower, entering the half down 33-32.

A lot of the first half was the same old story for Butler as they got out-shot by their opponent (50% to 34%) and found their best post threat on the bench with fouls.  But, as the Bulldogs have done all tournament, they've pieced together just enough winning pieces to remain within striking distance.  Tonight, it's been team rebounding and 10 big points off the bench from senior Avery Jukes, much to the delight of the home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium.

For the Devils, it's also been business as usual as their "Big 3" has combined for 26 of their 33 points and Brian "Jersey Muscle" Zoubek is on pace for double-digit rebounds with 5 in the first half.  Lance Thomas found himself in foul trouble early (per the usual) and neither of the Plumlee brothers were able to contribute much in his absence, probably frustrating their father, Plucky.  Plucky Plumlee. 

So, where might the game change?  Well, as in all close games, the free throw line can be the difference between winning and losing and both teams struggled in the first half.  For Butler, only Matt Howard got to the line (1-4) and Duke combined to go 4-9.  That's the stat you look at on Tuesday morning and either bow your head and shake it side-to-side or smile and sigh a sigh of relief. 

It's Butler and Duke and there's 20 minutes left until the end of incredible NCAA tournament and, at the very least, we're guaranteed no more sorry Diddy promos.

Let's do this!
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 5, 2010 9:53 am
Edited on: April 5, 2010 9:56 am

Butler Drive Draws Inevitable Movie References


When I look at this 2010 NCAA Tournament Championship, a battle between tourney juggernaut Duke and plucky cinderella Butler, being played only miles from Hinkle Fieldhouse and featuring an underdog group of Indiana basketball players in an unbelievable but inspiring run to the trophy game, I can only think of one memorable film from the eighties to which I can compare the storyline of this exciting matchup.

That movie, of course, is Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

In that film, a group of school kids from a small town in midwestern America had all their dreams come to life – but unfortunately, a villain waited in the shadows.  Truly, the Butler Bulldogs are a worthy comparison to the confident kids in that film – Joey, Taryn, Kincaid, Will, Jennifer and Phillip. And just like this likeable team of determined teens at Westin Hill Psychiatric Hospital, they have a protector in Nancy Thompson (Brad Stevens) who realizes there’s a force much powerful than them who will stop at nothing until they are crushed. Nancy (Brad Stevens) also has valuable allies supporting her in Lt. Donald Thompson (Butler assistant coach Terry Johnson) and Dr. Neil Gordon (assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry), who also pinpoint the terrifying force stalking the kids and vow to assist Nancy in any way to help her (him) defeat it.

Nancy, Lt. Thompson and Dr. Gordon realize that the powerful monster Freddy Krueger (Duke University) has come back again from the dead to kill everybody, and he is successful for a while. Joey (Ronald Nored) is paralyzed as Freddy tries to keep him incapacitated, but he is saved by quick thinking from Nancy. Lt. Thompson and Dr. Gordon help Kincaid (Gordon Hayward) fight Freddy in a junkyard (Indianapolis). During a final battle Freddy gets the best of Nancy, but at the last second Kristen (Shelvin Mack) figures out a secret way to destroy Freddy and all the ghosts of all the people (teams) Freddy has killed all come to say thank you and a bright light grows overhead. One shining moment illuminates everyone.

This is how Butler will win. And you shouldn’t question it, because I am an accredited CBS sports writer.

Also, at the end while everyone is happy, a light will suddenly come on in Freddy’s house – meaning maybe he’s not dead and maybe he’ll be back.

But that’s Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Duke vs. UCLA in a 2011 tournament Elite Eight matchup). And you’ll just have wait for that.


Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler, Duke
Posted on: April 3, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2010 12:54 pm

10 Questions for the Final Four


Here we are, just hours away from the Final Four.  We have seen 61 teams fall off the path to the championship and only four remain.  No, Kansas is not one of them.  No, Kentucky lost too.  Yeah, and Syracuse.  It has been crazy.  Anyway, here are 10 questions that are on everyone's minds as the 2010 NCAA Tournament winds down...

Will the Blue Devils find revenge?

#7 West Virginia upset #2 Duke 73-67 in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.  Duke will certainly have vengeance on its mind tonight.  All five Duke starters played in that '08 West Region game in Washington D.C.  West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler and Joe Mazzulla combined for 21 points in the upset.

Can the Spartans keep rolling without Lucas?

When Kalin Lucas went down with a torn achilles tendon late in the first half of Michigan State's win over Maryland, everyone wrote the Spartans off.  Then Korie Lucious shocked us all with a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Terps.  The Spartans then moved on to a win over Kansas Northern Iowa and another late miracle to beat Tennessee in the Elite Eight.

Did you know Butler is only 6.02 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium?

And, did you know Hoosiers was filmed at Butler's Hinkle Field House?  Did you know that?  Of course you did.  And, like me, I'm sure you're tired of hearing about it.

Will Darryl "Truck" Bryant return for West Virginia?

The Mountaineers' point guard broke his foot in practice before the Sweet Sixteen and is dying to get back on the court.  Bryant is listed as "highly unlikely" which basically means "he definitely won't play but it's the Final Four so everything is a storyline."  

Gordon Hayward can't really be that good - can he?

Yes, he can and he is.  I know he doesn't pass the looks test but Gordon Hayward is a future NBA pick.  The Horizon League Player of the Year averaged just under 16 points on the season and has been even more impressive in the tournament.  He scored 22 points in Butler's win over Kansas State and 17 in the win over Syracuse.   Hayward's the real deal.  (Insert Hoosier's reference)

Does anyone outside of Durham like the Blue Devils?

It certainly doesn't seem like it.  Even the Indianapolis Star got in on the hate.  No one can really explain why (other than Coach K's facial expressions and the flopping) but it seems that the entire nation can agree on one thing - everyone despises Duke.  Everyone.

Hey, did you know Butler is only 6.02 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium?

Oh, you did?  Well, it's also where Hoosi... I did?  I said that already?  I'm sorry.  Just making sure you knew that.  Carry on.

Can Huggy Bear finally get his ring?

Love him or hate him, Bob Huggins is one of the best to do it and he finally has the chance to win the grand prize  The Huggy Bear is in his first Final Four since 1992 and he has his alma mater there for the first time since 1959.  It's easy to point out graduation rates, his players' off the court issues, and his classic D.U.I. video with vomit on the driver's side door - but let's not forget that Huggins is a hell of a basketball coach.  Add to the fact that he is facing Coach K, and he is finally that guy we can root for.  Plus his mafia style tracksuits say, "I want to win, but I'm here to party."

Who will win it all?

Many believe the Duke-West Virginia semifinal game is the national championship game.  The Blue Devils and the Mountaineers are undoubtedly the two best teams left and if Dick Vitale had his way, the committee would reseed the Final Four.  While it's certainly not impossible for Butler or Michigan to win it all (never doubt Tom Izzo,) whoever advances between Duke and WV will be feeling good heading into the title game.

Is Jennifer Hudson singing "One Shining Moment?"

Yes she is.  I don't agree with it, either.

Posted on: April 1, 2010 2:53 am
Edited on: April 1, 2010 3:14 am

Get To Know the Duke Blue Devils


Duke University

Duke University was founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892.  In 1924, tobacco industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment, prompting the institution to change its name in honor of his deceased father, Washington Duke.

... at least that's what Wikipedia says.  And we all know Wikipedia never lies.

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Durham is the fourth largest city in North Carolina and the home of Clay Aiken.  A little-known law in the film industry states that all baseball movies must be set in Durham.  Only Rookie of the Year was ballsy enough to ignore this law.  But, Rookie of the Year is the best movie ever made and it doesn't take orders from anyone.

Notable Alumni

-- Richard Nixon - President of the United States from 1969-1974
-- John W. Cornwell -  Inventor of the beer launching fridge
-- Ken Jeong - The Asian guy from The Hangover
-- Tucker Max - Author of "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell"

Mascot: The Blue Devils

The Trinity Chronicle started a campaign to create Duke's mascot and included suggestions like the Catamounts, Grizzlies, Badgers, Dreadnaughts, and Captains. The paper's editor narrowed the many nominations down to those that utilized the school colors of dark blue and white. The narrowed list consisted of Blue Titans, Blue Eagles, Polar Bears, Blue Devils, Royal Blazes, and Blue Warriors.  Surprisingly, none of those awesome nominations appeared to be a clear cut favorite so one of the paper's writers took it upon himself to call Duke athletics the Blue Devils.  I would've gone with the Polar Bears.

Mike Krzyzkesckisewski, Head Coach

Kryszyrywdski is in his 30th season at Duke.  In those 30 years, Coach K has won three National Championships, 12 National Coach of the Year awards, and made too many credit card commercials.  He has been known to hire former players as assistant coaches, and many of them go on to be unsuccessful, overrated head coaches at other programs.

The Starting Five

#2 Nolan Smith, 6-1, G, Junior

2009-10 stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 spg 39.5% from field, 38% from three

#30 Jon Scheyer, 6-5, G, Senior

2009-10 stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 spg 39.5% from field, 38% from three

#12 Kyle Singler, 6-8, F, Junior

2009-10 stats: 17.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 40.9% from the field, 39.1% from three

#42 Lance Thomas, 6-8, F, Senior

2009-10 stats: 4.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 43.2% from the field

#55 Brian Zoubek, 7-1, C, Senior

2009-10 stats: 5.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 63.2% from the field


Seth Curry: Younger brother of Stephen Curry.  Sitting out this season as a transfer.  Hopefully, his mother will be in the crowd.

Brothers Plumlee: Miles and Mason Plumlee are the most dynamic duo to come out of Warsaw, Indiana.

Asst. Coach Steve Wojciechowski:  Will sit on Coach K's lap if chairs aren't readily available.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Duke
Posted on: March 31, 2010 2:29 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 3:07 pm

Hard to Get Excited About this Bunch


I am trying to talk myself into this Final Four, I really am.  I look at the field and see the loveable underdog (Butler), the mighty unlikeable power (Duke), the coach looking to break through (West Virginia) and the consistent, “How Do They Do It?” performer (Michigan State).  In theory that looks like a good bunch and would seem like a group I could rally behind.  But I am just not feeling it and I must admit I am a bit depressed.

See this was to be the Tournament when the stars came out and we got to see the best of the best .  The Midwest Region had Kansas and its pack of old school veterans and new school talent.  I was certain they would win their second title in three years and we would all have to accept that Bill Self is more “NCAA Champion” than “loser to Bradley and Bucknell.”  And if Kansas fell, it had to be Ohio State and Evan Turner, right?  He is so good AND he wears braces, a combination that almost surely is deserving of a Final Four.

And then in the West, old Jimmy Boeheim was going to be there, that much was certain.  Wesley Johnson was going to do his thing on a national stage and we were all going to be able to see the power of a perfectly executed zone.  And if for some strange reason, the Orange fell, well then Kansas State and their manic coach would be there to entertain and potentially scare us.  Throw in the fact they have a player with an Amish beard, and the excitement would have been at a fever pitch.

Then there was Kentucky.  You KNEW Kentucky was going to be there .  It was certain.  John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, John Calipari….it was a murderer’s row of storylines.    The Cats were the most talented team in America and had at least four future NBA Lottery picks on the roster.  There is no way that team doesn’t make the Final Four and dazzle us with at least a few amazing fast breaks and gravity-defying dunks.  There was no way that group could lose, could they?

Well they all lost, and some of them in brutal fashion.  And now we are left with four teams, none of which is really good enough to be the National Champion.   Yeah I said it.  None of these teams are very good.   In fact, if I were to have ranked the teams in terms of national championship worthiness going into the Tournament, only two of the teams in the Final Four would have even been in the Top 10, and West Virginia would have been highest at #5.  Now one of them will join Arizona in 1997 and Florida in 2006 as the only champions of the 1990s that were not among the four best teams in the country (for the record, my four this year were Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Ohio State…in that order). 

Look I love the scrappy underdog.  And if Butler becomes the most unlikely champ in NCAA history, then I will cheer.  But we know that will not happen.  Instead, we will likely either see a flawed West Virginia team or a mediocre Duke bunch with a gift-wrapped path to the Final Four, cut down the nets.  And that is fine I guess, but it doesn’t appeal to my sensibilities.  I either want to see greatness rewarded, or true “out of nowhere” underdogs capture the nation and produce a champion to remember for eternity.  None of these teams fit that bill.

So I guess I will root for Michigan State.  Tom Izzo has 6 Final Fours in 12 years and that record is beyond impressive.  And even though this bunch is one of the worst teams of the group, he is a great coach who deserves the second title that elevates him into the discussion as of the all-time best to roam the sidelines.  While this particular group doesn’t really deserve the title, he does for his overall resume of work.  So I will take Izzo and root for Sparty this weekend.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Posted on: March 31, 2010 1:16 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 1:19 pm

Do You Really Want These Guys Winning It All?


College basketball is in trouble if the NCAA Champion opened the season with this photo.

Watch these two videos from this year's "Countdown to Craziness" at Duke and try not to feel embarrassed for them.  Do we really want to see these guys win it all?

Season Cancelled: Duke Basketball: 
Duke players should leave their acting on the court.

Great Moments in Cinematic History:  
A Wojo sighting and Nolan Smith poses nude for a teammate.  Seriously.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Duke
Posted on: March 30, 2010 5:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 5:33 pm

Official Guide to Final Four Gambling


For the four remaining teams in the NCAA tournament, the Final Four weekend is a battle of skill, coaching, execution, heart, intensity, and determination for the grand prize of being named college basketball's top team.  61 teams have already fallen on this grueling journey.  It is an opportunity of a lifetime and only the strongest will survive.

But for millions of people outside of the four remaining teams, the Final Four is one of the biggest gambling weekends of the year and even more is at stake.  Jobs will be lost, marriages will end, family heirlooms will be pawned, and households and legs could be broken all over just a few bad gambling decisions.  For some, it is a life changing opportunity and only the strong - well, lucky - will drive off in that new car, pay this month's rent, or put their children through community college.

Will you be one of the successful or one of the poor?

I can help you through your gambling decision process.  And by help you, I mean do not take anything I say seriously.  I will not be held responsible for your severed right index finger - bookies and cigar cutters are a dangerous duo.  I will, however, suggest that you see a doctor about that.  You're losing a lot of blood.  On to the gambling... 


Butler (+350)
Duke  (+120)
Michigan State  (+450)
West Virginia  (+225)


Line: Butler (-1.5)

O/U:  126

Ken Pom Predicts:  Butler 64-62

Prop Bets:

--- Gordon Hayward Total Points:  O/U 21

--- Durrell Summers Points + Rebs:  O/U 23.5

--- Butler drove six miles to Indy references:  O/U  193.5

--- Ivan Brothers commercials:  O/U 97

--- Where the hell is Mateen Cleaves?:  Turkey (-120), France (-300), Detroit, owner of All Varsity Entertainment Records (+700)

"OBM" PREDICTION:  Michigan State +1.5 - Never bet against Tom Izzo.  Ever. 


Line: Duke (-3)

O/U:  131

Ken Pom Predicts:  Duke 67-62

Prop Bets:

--- Da'Sean Butler Total Points:  O/U 17.5

--- Jon Scheyer Points + Assists:  O/U 22

--- Bob Huggins outfit:  Sweatsuit (-800), Mock Turtleneck (-600), Fully Nude (+1500)

--- Mickie Krzyzewski TV sightings:  O/U 11.5

--- Natty Lights consumed by Kevin Pittsnogle:  O/U 24

--- Couches burned in Morgantown:  O/U .5

"OBM" PREDICTION:  West Virginia +3 - It's the year of the Huggy Bear.
Posted on: March 30, 2010 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 2:47 pm

Welcome to the Party


And then there were four. Four teams from a field of sixty-four (sixty-five counting Winthrop), each having braved the bullets meant for them and emerged a contender for the national championship. Over the past two weeks we've grown to know and follow teams we may have, in some cases, had precious little exposure to before (I'm looking at you, Saint Mary's) or grown more respect toward (nice going, Cornell). But the four that matter now are the Final Four. It's their party from here on out, so let's get to know 'em.


"The Resourceful One"

Michigan State is that friend who saves one-fourth of a meatball sub to eat two hours from now. He's the one who can figure out how to get beer. He's the guy who always has a plan -- and he can get himself out of a squeeze simply by being practical. When things get tough, count on Michigan State to come through just by being smart -- like that time he figured out how to get front row Widespread Panic tickets the day before the show by calling his cousin whose friend was a college radio DJ who knew the band's promoter. He's good people to know and always cool under pressure.

Why Michigan State will win: They'll size up the situation, tweak accordingly, and find a way to get things done.

Why Michigan State won't win: By overthinking things, sometimes the big picture gets lost. Plus, there's that ruptured achilles tendon.


"The Pretty Boy"

Duke's got it all. He's cool. He's charming. He's got great parents. He's been raised well. And he's all the ladies can talk about. Everything seems to go well for him, especially when things look bleak. He's just that kind of guy. His perfectly coiffed hair and dashing good looks make him a favorite of many, though when things aren't going well for him he's quick to complain about it. Good thing, then, that things perpetually seem to go his way.

Why Duke will win: They're arguably the strongest team left, and they haven't even really had a scare yet. They're a tournament team and have a huge shot at the title. 

Why Duke won't win: When the cops bust the party, Duke calls dad and then tells on everybody.


"The Quiet Type"

No one ever expects Butler to show up. He always says he's going to, but at the last second goes home instead. Everyone likes Butler, but no one really knows him all that well. He doesn't normally run with this kind of crowd, but fits in well. He keeps a low profile, but get him going and he's the life of the party. He's fun while he's there, but you never know how long he's going to stay, and he's never been to a party this big before. He's either going to flame out with the cool kids or make a lot of new friends.

Why Butler will win: As Butler stays modest and says very little, few realize how much they're capable of accomplishing.

Why Butler won't win: More experienced partiers could drink them under the table.


"Hellz Yeah!"

West Virginia told you it would be here, but you didn't think that slacker could get its act together and get motivated. Now you're eating your words, because West Virginia -- who you really only know in passing because he hangs out in auto shop class all day -- is showing up and he's ready to par-tay. He's a wildchild: funny, unpredictable and probably going to get into a fight before the night's over. Having him at the party makes everyone a little nervous, but he seems alright. For now.

Why West Virginia will win: Things seem to be aligned for them and they're stone cold rollin'.

Why West Virginia won't win: They could go nuts, flame out and lose it. They also won't stop requesting John Denver songs.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com