UConn-Butler brickfest a surreal sight on title night


There’s no sugarcoating with talk of fantastic defense. The 2011 NCAA championship game was bad. Awful. Nearly unwatchable. As Jay Bilas tweeted, “no defense is good enough to cause a good offense to be that bad.”

Oh sure, you’ll read about how well the defenses played. In terms of effort, that’s undeniable. Both teams exerted themselves on defense, challenging shots and pressuring ball-handlers.  That’s certainly praiseworthy, which was talked about afterward.

“If you like it wide open and you want nothing but a 49-42 football game with a lot of scores, it wasn’t your game. If you want two teams, I can tell the way they play, they gave it everything they have. To me that’s beauty,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “Yeah, you’d like a few more baskets made certainly. But it was two teams that weren’t going to give into each other and finally our superiority took over. But, damn, I loved it in the sense of the fact of the fight, competitiveness between the two teams.”

Calhoun and UConn fans may have been the only ones. The rest of us watched, jaws agape, amazed at the sheer amount of missed shots by both teams.  It got so bad, it was a surreal sight.

Who knew so many shots could go awry? Who knew UConn could go 1 for 13 from beyond the arc and still win by 12?

When Butler makes just 12 of 64 shots, that’s how. Some amazing – in a bad way – stats:

And it happened on the Monday night that matters!

(shakes head)

Left me feeling like the guy in old Alka Setzer ads, but instead of eating, I was watching the whole thing. And I felt bad for the Bulldogs.

At first, they couldn’t hit because of UConn’s defense. The Huskies were bigger, longer and made just about every attempt a nightmare for Brad Stevens’ squad. But when so many shots wouldn’t fall things got out of hand. Butler wanted to shoot and stretch the UConn defense, but nothing was falling.

It was uncanny.

“I don’t care if they make shots. I don’t love ’em any less because we lost. You know, they’ve been terrific. You’re not always going to make shots. That’s part of the game. Very rarely will you go 12 of 64. But UConn had a lot to do with that,” Stevens said.

“For whatever reason, we just couldn’t make ’em.”

It shouldn’t detract from Butler’s run or the tournament in general though. Both teams proved themselves worthy of playing for the title by winning in the format that’s beloved as one of the greatest playoff systems in sports. So maybe they weren’t the two best teams of the season. So what?

For one night, nothing went in. I’m just sad it had to be title night.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Ingram scores 15, leads No. 6 Duke past pesky Yale 80-61

Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Freshman Brandon Ingram scored 15 points and played a key role in the defensive switch that helped No. 6 Duke beat Yale 80-61 on Wednesday night.

Matt Jones had 17 points and Grayson Allen scored 15 for the Blue Devils (5-1), while Ingram sparked Duke out of a lethargic start with his pressure as the front man after the switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense.

Freshman Luke Kennard finished with 12 points for the Blue Devils, who finally took control with a 17-2 run during a 5 1/2-minute span that bridged the halves. Duke outscored Yale 42-25 in the second half.

Justin Sears scored 19 points and Makai Mason had 13 points for the Bulldogs (3-2). The preseason favorites in the Ivy League led for all but 90 seconds of the first half but shot just 30 percent after the break.

The clear difference was Duke’s switch late in the first half to that zone defense with the 6-foot-9 Ingram out in front – where he could disrupt Yale’s ballhandlers, get his 7-3 wingspan into passing lanes and pester the perimeter shooters.

Yale, which shoots 40 percent from 3-point range, was just 4 of 15 in this one. Duke finished with 12 steals and forced 13 turnovers, turning them into 16 points.

That defensive pressure sparked the game-turning run, with the zone forcing turnovers on consecutive trips down court that Duke turned into transition buckets.

Ingram later took a steal coast to coast for a layup that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead at 48-38 with 16:43 to play. Allen capped the decisive run with a layup on the next trip down court.

They eventually pulled away, pushing the lead into the 20s on a jumper with 2 1/2 minutes left by Amile Jefferson, who finished with 12 rebounds.

The lopsided final score was surprising because Duke was in trouble for virtually the entire first half. Yale routinely outworked the Blue Devils and generated easy baskets – none easier than Mason’s unimpeded drive across the lane for a layup that put the Bulldogs up 27-20 with 7 1/2 minutes left before the break.


VIDEO: Colorado player ejected for biting another player

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Colorado is playing Air Force tonight.

For some reason or another, Colorado’s Tory Miller got mad at Air Force’s Hayden Graham.

So he bit him.


At least he didn’t pretend that he teeth hurt after getting bit.

Miller, obviously, was ejected. Colorado ended up winning the game.