UConn Tops Butler for Third Title
A slow, methodical game was supposed to favor Butler but defense ruled the night as the Connecticut Huskies won their third national championship, topping the Bulldogs 53-41 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on Monday night.
UConn allowed Butler to shoot just 18.8 percent from the field, the lowest in NCAA men’s championship history, blocking ten shots and dominating the glass, 51-40.
Huskies Coach Jim Calhoun became just the fifth coach in the history of NCAA men’s basketball to win at least three national championships, joining the likes of John Wooden (10), Mike Krzyzewski (4), Adolf Rupp (4) and Bob Knight (3).
An improbable champion, Connecticut lost nine games in conference play and finished the regular season with four losses it is last five games heading into the Big East Tournament. Regardless, UConn played its best basketball of the season when it mattered most by winning eleven straight games to close out the season, including five games in five nights en route to a Big East Tournament title heading into the Big Dance.
Coming into the season Connecticut failed to even receive a vote, let alone crack the Top 25, in either poll after finishing last season 18-16 (UConn lost in the second round of the 2010 NIT) and losing three starters (Gavin Edwards, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson) to professional basketball at some level.
Junior guard Kemba Walker carried UConn through the early part of the campaign, leading a young Huskies team to a Maui Invitational title while emerging as a National Player of the Year award candidate. As the season progressed, however, the Huskies’ unheralded supporting cast developed into a terrific defensive unit which helped Walker lift UConn to a national title.
For the second consecutive season, Butler shocked the basketball world by advancing to the title game, only to fall short on the game’s biggest stage.
Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack, who combined to average nearly 33 points per game throughout the season, scored just 20 total points in the championship game while making just 5-29 (.172) shots from the field.