NCAA Tournament: Butler’s remarkable rise
Butler’s return to the Final Four is remarkable. Two straight trips to college basketball’s mecca for a school from the Horizon League.
Think of it this way. Butler has nine NCAA Tournament wins the previous 13 months. That’s as many NCAA wins as Arizona has had since 2003.
We can do this by state. Nine wins is as many NCAA Tournament wins as Notre Dame has since 1985. More NCAA Tournament wins than Purdue (eight) has since 2000. More than Indiana (eight) has since 1999.
Nine NCAA Tournament wins is more than Oklahoma (eight) has had since 2002. More NCAA wins than Oklahoma State (eight) has had since 2000. More NCAA wins than Tulsa (seven) has had since 1995.
Nine NCAA Tournament wins is many as Gonzaga has had since 2001. More NCAA wins than Washington (eight) has had since 1998. More than Washington State (six) has had in its history.
We can do this by conference. Nine NCAA Tournament wins is as many as Georgetown has since 1996 and Marquette has since 1994. More NCAA wins than Syracuse (seven) has since 2003. More NCAA wins than DePaul (eight) has since 1979.
Nine NCAA Tournament since is as many as Florida State has had since 1980. More NCAA wins than Virginia (eight) has had since 1989. More NCAA wins than Wake Forest (seven) has had since 1996. More NCAA wins than Boston College (eight) has since 1994.
Butler out Tulsa-ed Tulsa and out Gonzaga-ed Gonzaga. Butler reached the Final Four after becoming a mid-major force. George Mason actually got to the 2006 Final Four, but that was out of the blue. Tulsa in the ’90s and Gonzaga in the 2000s were consistent mid-major forces in the NCAA Tournament but never quite reached a Final Four.
But Butler made the Final Four last season and now has double trumped that achievement. First, the Bulldogs made the NCAA title game — and darn near took out Duke for the championship. Now, Butler has returned to the Final Four.
It’s a stunning ascension which rewrites the playbook for mid-majors. Suddenly, the script doesn’t have to include a clock striking midnight. Suddenly, Butler is no underdog. They are America’s team and Brad Stevens is America’s coach.
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