Butler Does It Again
Pittsburgh, the number one seed in the Southeast region of the tournament had a great chance to escape a nightmare, when Gilbert Brown, one of the better shooters on the team, was summoned to the line to shoot two free throws with only two second left.
The first one was good. Shelvin Mack was on the verge of tears, pulling the Bulldogs to another Cinderella upset, and having 30 of the teams 71 points, Mack has a terrible foul on Brown with 2.1 seconds left. Mack was having one of his best games of his career, shooting 7/12 from beyond the arc and 10-16 overall.
The second one bounced off the rim and was grabbed by Matt Howard, Butler's best big man and helped lead them to the finals last year. Howard also had a great game including 16 points, one very clutch three pointer, and an even clutch-er free throw. Howard also played great on the other end of the hoop with a few charges taken and key stops. As Howard grabbed the rebound he threw the ball up, just trying to run the clock out and go to overtime. That's when Nasir Robinson, Pittsburgh big man, slapped Howard on the rebound causing a foul, and two decisive free throws with barely any time left.
Howard now had two free throws, only one being needed to pull off yet another upset. The first one was good, and everyone on Butler felt relived. Howard threw the second shot off the rim, the time expired and tears were running down every player on Pittsburgh's face.
Many at first blamed Gilbert Brown, if only he had made that second free throw the game would be over. It was definitly not Brown's fault. When the Panthers star player Ashton Gibbs was limited to only 11 points, it was Brown who stepped up and scored 24 points.
Then the finger pointed to Nasir Robinson. Why would he foul? It is not Robinson's fault either. Robinson was the key big man down low for Pitt, who was the team's second leading scorer. Robinson was just looking to be the hero and get the tap back to win the game for the Panthers. So whose fault is it? I hate to say it but this one is coach Jamie Dixon's fault. Why wouldn't Dixon just tell his men to back off the line for the second shot. Nobody knows and in the end Butler comes away victorious.
Butler was not on many peoples brackets to win this game, and even the game before against Old Dominion. You must realize, Butler is the same team last year without Gordon Hayward. They still have Shawn Vanzant, Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, and a great coach in Brad Stevens, this time he just has glasses. Also, many forgot that last year, throughout the season Hayward wasn't even the team's best player. He simply just stepped up in the tournament, when everyone watched and when Matt Howard was in foul trouble, the team looked for Hayward to make the shots. This year Shelvin Mack is last years Gordon Hayward.
Shelvin Mack helped lead Butler again to the tournament this year, averaging 16 points, four assists, and four rebounds per game. Going into the big dance, Butler was riding one of the longest winning streaks in the nation at nine games. Now it has reached 11.
So back in the locker room, Brad Stevens did his traditional chest bump after a big win, and the team chanted their winning chant. Now the Bulldogs face off Wisconsin, who have knocked off Belmont and Kansas State so far.
This matchup, Wisconsin vs Butler will be a great one to watch. Both teams play very efficient basketball and are lead by great guards in Shelvin Mack and Jordan Taylor. Both teams also shoot the three ball very well, and have good assist to turnover ratios. The two will face off in New Orleans later in the week, and should be a good one. Can Wisconsin continue their streak lead by Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer, or will Butler slip on the glass slipper, and possibly make another run deep in the NCAA Tournament?