Moral victors – YAY!

:00.8      Butler -  Gordon Hayward misses a 46-foot three-pointer

This play-by-play does the final possession no justice. Gordon Hayward didn’t just miss the Hail Mary, he missed out on a chance to make history. I could see it then, “The Greatest Upset in NCAA History”. Had the trajectory of the shot been a centimeter or two to the left or right, things would have been very different – that’s how I’m going to tell it anyway. Decades from now this game will simply be known as Duke’s 4th championship to the casual basketball fan and that sucks. This was my first March Madness experience and it was a good one, I just feel like I should write a little something about it.

Butler really proved their worth in this game. They matched Duke’s (mostly Zoubek’s) physicality on defense and instead of following after West Virginia’s “just-happy-to-be-here” mindset, showcased great intensity and aggression with an air of elegance. Down by 3 with 5 minutes to go, Hayward gets fouled on the break and goes down hard. Without a fuss, he gets up and calmly sinks two pressure free throws. No arguing, no confrontations, just gets back up, takes care of business and gets back on defense. That right there is the poise of a champion.

The 5th seeded Butler kept in it against their top seeded opponent until the very end despite a 7-minute fieldgoal drought in the crucial 2nd half, this was a result of their Ray Allen-like composure at the free-throw line. They might not have won, but in my opinion this was still a damn fine moral victory; proof that one can walk out valiantly even following defeat.

- Brian

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