Uploaded Ad
One More to Go
Courtesy: Michael Tomko,
Release: 04/05/2010
article image
Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek celebrate towards the end of Saturday’s win over West Virginia.
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
BDN+ Premium Content
Related Links

INDIANAPOLIS - Monday night's National Championship game will be billed by television and newspaper outlets as a matchup of big school versus little school or even more poetic, David versus Goliath.

Some are even going as far as comparing the matchup to the final game in the movie Hoosiers between the South Bend Central and Hickory.

"I obviously have seen it [Hoosiers]," Brian Zoubek said. "It is such a great story. Obviously, Butler has done a great job and deserves a lot of respect and a lot of support, but I don't see too many similarities between us and that other team [South Bend Central]."

That is because this is not a battle of David versus Goliath.

 Butler is not Cinderella. They reached this point because they are a basketball team that works hard and plays the game the right way. A fairy-godmother didn't sprinkle any magic pixie dust to help them reach Indianapolis.

"I think they play the game the right way," Jon Scheyer said. "That is one thing that I am proud to be a part of this Duke team because I feel like we play the right way."

Duke has reached this point too because they play the game the way it is suppose to be played, for a head coach who demands perfection and execution on both ends of the court. They did not reach the title game because of the accomplishments of previous Duke teams.

It is though, going to be a great game.

"They like to work," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They like to get better. As they get better individually, it makes what we do collectively look a lot better. So a lot of it has to do with just a tremendous work ethic of these guys."

Krzyzewski has made it a point of emphasis to not compare his previous three National Championship teams with his team stepping on the floor Monday, because as he has said, it is not fair to them to compare these Blue Devils' accomplishments with past Blue Devil accomplishments.

"Coach wouldn't let us talk about that," Nolan Smith said. "He is just worried about us."

Duke has been excellent at living in the moment all season long. It has led them to this moment, college basketball's biggest stage, playing for its biggest prize.

 "That is really our only focus," Smith said.

The game's story is really about two private schools playing for the National Title because they are the two best teams in college basketball. Only after Monday will we know which one is the best.

"What I think the great story is, tomorrow night is two private institutions playing for the national title," Krzyzewski said. "I don't know how much that's been done. I think that's a pretty cool thing, to have two private institutions playing for the national title. It's a pretty cool thing."

Since the modern era, when the field expanded to 64 teams in 1984, only one other NCAA Championship game, Georgetown versus Villanova in 1985, has featured two private institutions competing for college basketball's greatest crown.

Monday's Championship game will be just the fifth title game in NCAA history with two private schools playing. The other three - San Francisco versus LaSalle (1955), LaSalle versus Bradley (1954) and Stanford versus Dartmouth (1942) - all occurred during a different era of college basketball.

There are those who like to talk about the differences between these two schools to try and create a more compelling story, but these two schools are more similar than people think. Both are private institutions with a combined student-body enrollment slightly over 10,000 making it the smallest combined enrollment between the two schools in a title game since Georgetown versus Villanova in 1985.

Neither team has any players that ever reached a Final Four, let alone a Championship game, prior to this season.

Both Duke and Butler were ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll top 25 all season with Duke ranked third and Butler not far behind at eight in the latest ranking.

"It's not how we look at it at all," Scheyer said. "They've been a top-10 team the whole year. We know how great of a team they are, especially watching on tape."

The Blue Devils are riding a nine game winning streak, while Butler has taken its last 25 in a row.

 "They have been great team all year," Smith said. "I am excited that the two best teams are playing tomorrow. There story is obviously great and we have a great story as well. It is going to be two great storied schools this year playing for the National Championship."