2. Butler Didn't Do It
The stories preceding the game were as predictable as they were grandiose – David versus Goliath, Hickory High against South Bend Central, and every other conceivable permutation of the analogy. The Butler Bulldogs faced off against the Duke Blue Devils in the NCCA title game and surprisingly – and to the delight of all college basketball fans – the game lived up to its incredible hype.
With the majority of the 70,930 on hand in Indianapolis rooting for hometown Butler, the Bulldogs gave Duke everything it could handle. The ACC champions took a slim one-point advantage into halftime and Butler seemed poised to do the unthinkable.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their Cinderella story finished a few inches short of the dream scenario. After Brian Zoubek made the first of two free throws, Duke’s behemoth of a center intentionally missed the second. Butler star Gordon Hayward corralled the rebound with 3.6 seconds left, dribbled to midcourt, and hoisted a prayer that caromed off the backboard, then the front of the rim, before falling harmlessly to the floor.
Duke’s “Big Three” of John Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler combined for 47 of the Blue Devils’ 61 points and proved too much for the upset-minded Bulldogs, securing Duke a fourth national championship, 61-59.