The Butler Bulldogs

As I’ve documented several times in several places, I always get excited for the NCAA basketball tournament. It might be my favorite sporting event of the year – especially since I don’t always have a favored team in the Super Bowl. But with March Madness, there are always conferences to be cheered and jeered, teams that I love, local favorites, and of course those cinderellas. Coming into this year’s tournament, I had a couple of rooting interests. First off, I have become a pretty big Purdue and Butler fan. Purdue because they are good (yes, I jumped on the bandwagon about three years ago and started following them very closely), and because my sister and brother-in-law graduated from there. Butler (as I’ve said before) because they’ve had success for the last decade, but for a variety of other reasons, really. I went to grade school and college with their coach, they are a very small school/underdog/cinderella, they are a local team with a classy program, etc. But more on them in a minute. My other rooting interests revolve around hatred and conferences. I absolutely detest Kentucky, both because they are Indiana’s bitter rivals (my true team), and because their coach is a scumbag. I also can’t stand Duke (though it hasn’t bordered on hatred for a few years), dating back to Laettner (total prick, stepped on a Kentucky player on purpose, hard, before he hit his famous shot…shouldn’t have been in the game in the first place) and the worst-officiated game I’ve ever seen in any sport – the Final 4 in 1992 vs. Indiana (long story). So I’m always rooting against those teams. Along with that, I also love to see the Big Ten do well. Typically we are considered “overrated” coming into the tournament, but we always seem to have multiple teams in the Sweet 16 and beyond. Rarely does a year go by when the Big Ten doesn’t have at least 1 team in the Final 4. But this year, I also had another mission – to see every SEC team go down in flames. This is another long story, but the gist of it is that I have noticed recently that what many (not all) of my SEC friends consider merely “SEC pride”, almost always also consists of bashing other conferences and teams. Whether it be Notre Dame, the Big East, the Big Ten, or whomever, it never seems like SEC fans can just be happy for their conference, which would seem totally fine to me. The problem is, it rarely stops there – they always have to belittle someone else. And if you EVER dare to mention something even CLOSE to negative (even if it’s just a hint or suggestion) about the SEC, you get jumped all over like you started World War III. I noticed this more and more starting with this year’s football season, and continuing through the basketball tournament. Traditionally, I’ve not berated other conferences so much (mostly just individual teams like USC, Florida/State and Miami)…in fact, I used to be a bit of a closet SEC fan. But with Alabama’s hiring of The Liar, through the constant mocking of other teams/conferences that I see from so many SEC fans, I have slowly changed. So, along with my natural hatred for Kentucky, I have been rooting HARD against every SEC team (not that there were many after the first round, but add to Kentucky a Tennessee team filled with criminals, and it’s pretty easy to root against them).

So, while I normally have plenty to get excited about, this year’s NCAA tournament has been special. Indiana is terrible, and did not make it, which seems like it should dampen my spirits. Purdue lost their best player to a blown-out ACL, and dropped from a probable #1 seed to a 4 seed. Butler was underrated by most people, and given a terrible draw (again). And yet, I have found myself “getting into” games even more this year, particularly BECAUSE Butler and Purdue were virtually given no shot to make it deep into the tourney. There have been several games where I have literally been on the carpet in front of the TV, banging on the floor, pleading with my team to pull games out (I SWEAR they can hear me, though Lacey assures me that they can’t 🙂 And all of that culminated on Thursday/Saturday with Butler’s two amazing upset wins. Beating the #1 and 2 seeds, with much less height and athleticism, by playing fundamental, defensive, smart basketball was oh so satisfying. And in each game, Butler built a lead, lost it deep in the 2nd half, and yet battled to an upset victory. These were scintillating basketball games, and ones which I will never forget.

Now, Butler has come home. They are the first Final 4 team to play in their home city since 1979. The city of Indianapolis is in an uproar. We have had a great year with the Colts in the Super Bowl, etc. but we NEEDED this after what happened in Miami. Butler is the definition of a cinderella. They have barely any seniors, a 33-year-old coach, and were given no shot against the “big boys” of college basketball. And yet, playing in their first Final 4 EVER, they have a legitimate chance to do the unthinkable: be the National Champions of college basketball. So come Saturday (and hopefully Monday), turn on the TV, tune in to CBS, and help me cheer on the Butler Bulldogs. They deserve it. They want it. They need it. GO ‘DOGS!!

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One Response to “The Butler Bulldogs”

  1. Arthur Rimbaud Says:

    “They are the first Final 4 team to play in their home city since 1979.”

    Try 1972 — UCLA in Los Angeles.

    Go Dawgs!!!!!

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