UCONN wins

UCONN’s Kemba Walker would not be denied as a very long journey finally ended in a championship. UCONN topped Butler 53 to 41 to claim its third national championship since 1999.

Butler, and all who cheered for the number 8 seeded “Cinderella story,” were left disheartened by their dismal game, where they were out-muscled, out-hustled and never looked comfortable shooting the ball.

But the true underdog was not the Butler Bulldog – it was the UCONN Huskies. At the start of the year, Butler was ranked 18th, but many regular season struggles left the team as a big disappointment after making it to the finals in the previous year. Then they turned it around to make the tournament and beat the number one, two and four teams in their region: A pretty great underdog story right?

UCONN is an even better one: Instead of starting the season at 18, they failed to receive a single preseason vote. They did not make it into the top 50 to start and were predicted to finish 10th in the Big East. The team started turning heads with some regular season upsets, but still only managed to have a 9-9 conference record at the end of the season.

But, once the elimination games began, Walker and company got it going. UCONN won five games in five days to win the Big East tournament and earn a number 3 seed. UCONN kept finding ways to win and, with the emergence of first-year Jeremy Lamb, UCONN still seemed to be gaining momentum. Even some of college hoops’ most heralded defenses, like Arizona, couldn’t figure out how to stop them.

But it was the defense that stepped up in the championship game. Butler shot 18.8 percent, the worst in the history of championship games. No one deserves more of that credit than Alex Oriakhi, whose size and presence made Butler’s dream run become a nightmare.

While there is still debate as to which team was the real Cinderella story, the Huskies are the ones who get to enjoy the happy ending.

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