If you stayed up to watch the NCAA Title game between UConn and Butler, you probably woke up with a big, fat hangover sans the booze. For one of the most exciting, entertaining NCAA Tournaments in recent history, this game was for the dogs.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas offered the perfect summation. ”If Tom Rinaldi read the box score of last night’s game, we’d all be crying uncontrollably for days,” he said.
Butler shot an embarrasing 18 percent from the field, and had only two points in the paint, compared to 26 for UConn. But for a tiny school with less than than 5,000 students to reach a second-straight title game, they have shown they can run with the big dogs. Even if those hounds are eating grass-fed filet mignon and Butler gets their beef at the drive thru.
According to the Indianapolis Star, UConn had a Final Four budget of $6.9 million, second only to Kentucky. Butler’s budget was $2.8 million, which ranks them 98th out of 341 Division I programs. In football, that would be like Texas facing a program like Bowling Green or Troy in the BCS Title game; something we will never, ever see.
In all fairness, the 2011 NCAA tournament field was wide open and watered-down. The experts had Ohio State and Kansas as the dominant favorites, and VCU not deserving a spot. But in a society where money talks, the probability of Butler’s (and VCU’s) run is staggering.
According to The New York Times, Butler spends $10 million per year on their athletic program, and only $1.7 million of it on basketball. Conversely, UConn’s athletic budget is over four times higher at $47 million, with $5.5 million devoted to hoops.
So despite a poor performance, keep your heads up, Bulldogs. Don’t forget the Fab Five lost back-to-back title games too. We hope to see you again.