March madness is over, and this year's story of "David and Goliath" has also ended, but with a different conclusion: Duke won the national championship in a tournament full of excitement and surprises. The final game could be considered one of the most epic games in the recent history of the NCAA's college basketball. We could also state this game has become an instant classic: Duke 61 Butler 59; the stage was the Lucas Oil Stadium; the audience, more than 70 000 people. Some weeks ago, Butler didn't appear in any of the predictions and it never crossed anyone's mind that they would take down seeds number 1 and 2 (the Syracuse Orange and the Kansas State Wildcats, respectively) and would go on to face Duke, the number 1 seed in the South, and almost beat them; simply outstanding.
In a more than tight game, Butler lost by only 2 points; the largest lead of the night was just 6 points. For Duke this was the most difficult game and it's most tenacious opponent. They met in the tournament despite Butler being just a small college team, so to speak. For Butler, this was a feat of willfulness and a display of really good basketball. They have now put hope in the hearts of every small school team, to dream with not only getting to the final four but to reach the final game. Victory was so close, just a shoot away.
For a small school with a modest budget and affiliated to a mid-major conference, this was more than a simple feat for Butler; this win goes not only for them, but to all of the small teams that appear as obvious underdogs and yet battle in that game that nearly turns into a miracle. To most of the analysts this was a mismatch, but an excellent coaching, good players, and a big portion of effort and spirit raised the basketball level of a "just average" basketball program into the winning zone of teams with long basketball tradition.
The last shot was by Butler's Gordon Hayward, their best player all season; hadn't he missed it, the most improbable outcome would have come true, and that almost occurred last Monday night.