9:01 Scheyer and Gordon Heyward in the pre-game music video with P. Diddy was insanely awkward. The lack of rhythm was hilarious. And that's just Diddy. Clearly, they had this intro planned in advance for John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Sherron Collins.
9:08 As you can see from the photo above, above, I clearly have no bias in this championship game.
9:10 The disparity in budgets between Butler and Duke is vast. EXPLAIN. If Butler wins this game, Butler's athletic department will have to raise money for a trophy case. If Duke wins, the alumni might dig in their pockets for a new arena.
9:11 Hoosiers is the cinematic comparison that's been thrown around carelessly since Saturday night, but I'm going to shock you--I've never seen Hoosiers and don't get the hype around a film with so many cliches. The preamble to this environmnent feels more like Mystery, Alaska where the hometown boys of Mystery, Alaska set up between the New York Rangers.
9:12 While Duke's stars will be participating in their NBA trading cards photoshoots next season, Butler's stars will reunite to film one of those 30 second "Most ahletes go pro in something other than sports" commercials.
9:14 Just minutes before the tip, I can't feel my legs. Diagnosis: Paralysis of analysis.
9:16 Duke and Carolina last went back to back in the NCAA Final in '92 and '93 where they took turns schooling Michigan's Fab 4. Remarkably, however, the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have avoided one another in the NCAA Tournament for 70 years.
9:20 During the pre-game intros, Butler Bulldogs starters are petting a thirsty bulldog. What ESPN's camera's didn't catch was Coach K rejecting the Nets offer by renewing his covenant with the Blue Devils for 5 more years by drinking the blood of a sacrifice.
9:27 Zoubek on the offensive boards again with a tip-in to make the score 6-1. Zoubek is so dominant when the ball comes off the rim, Verne Troyer would be more succcessul be blocking him out right now. Getting boxed out by a 3 footer is pretty good leverage.
9:30 Matt Howard is getting past Zoubek for easy lay-ins but can't seem to convert layups at the rim.
9:35 Duke is so much taller and longer than Butler but Sheldon Mack's shooting like a man possessed. 2 for 2 from beyond the arch.
9:38 The crowd just "April Fooled" Butler's Willie Veasley into a quick shot by counting down the shot clock from 5 seconds in unison. As the crowd reached 1, Veasley fired an off-balance desperation jumper as the actual shot clock shot ticked down to 6.
9:47 Butler has more energy than Duke with 8:20 left in the 1st half. They've earned repeated second chance opportunities but are hovering above Duke 20-18. Sheldon Mack, leads Butler in scoring with 8 points looks more like an NBA prospect for Butler than Cameron Heyward, who is clanking open looks, through 12 minutes.
9:55 Shelvin Mack is blowing by Kyle Singler like a tornado wind. But offensively, Scheyer is returning fire. Mack vs. Singler is emerging as the 1st half's main event.
10:01 Gordon Heyward's has to awaken from his his pre-game nap in time for the 2nd half of the national championship.
10:02 Butler responds from Duke's 8-0 run with a 7-0 run to cut their 8 point deficit to 1.
10:08 Jukes just got hung on a dunk attempt and Duke was so surprised they didn't even contest his own putback. Jukes comes right back down on the next possession to drain a 3 and entering the half has a team high 10 points. Where did this guy come from?
10:11 Butler is winning the rebound battle 24-17, offensive rebounds 12 to 3 and in second chance points, 10 to 2.
10:45 A shaky call gives Matt Howard his 4th foul. Howard could pull out a white flag, comb his mustache and the refs would call him for a personal.
10:53 Heyward has found his new confidence. Duke better shift their man to man because Heyward is dancing past Scheyer off the dribble.
10:59 Butler is a scrappy bunch, they've got two defenders on he floor clawing for the loose ball, and 0 Duke players with dust on their chest.
11:01 I've seen this before. Heyward seemed so unsure of himself in the first half, he wouldn't put the ball on the floor and took a slew of stiff set shots. In the second half, he's creating his own shot opportunities off the dribble. If the NCAA kept this stat, I'd wager Heyward leads the second half in dribbles.
11:09 All I ever hear about is the expressions and contortions of Scheyerface but you can't tell me the Duke point guard doesn't have a future as a Vegas impersonator for Freddie Prinze Jr.
11:16 Butler went 10 minutes without a field goal against Michigan State. With 5:02 remaining Butler has one field goal since the 13 minute mark and hasn't drained a field goal since 9:22 but has cut the lead to 1. Unbelievable.
11:20 Butler has 1 field goal in the last 9:20. It's like their trying to hit land land from a submarine.
11:28 After 9 minutes of offensive silence, Howard pulls Butler within one with a pair of layups thanks to great penetration and vision. If Duke loses, Nolan Smith is going to have nightmares about the lay-in he short armed.
11:31 Howard's got his hand taped up, how is this going to affect his feel?
11:34 This timeout is Brad Stevens' One Shining Moment. Feels like the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Brad Stevens' has to pull basketball's hook and lateral out his playbook.
11:39 Gordon Heyward's desperation running half court jumper will be the most replayed miss in tournament history. Jim Nantz's "OHHH!!! ALMOST WENT IN" will live on in the sports call pantheon. If Gus Johnson were making the call he would have shattered the crystal basketball, Duke will be presented with. Zoubek's purposely missed free throw could have backfired miserably with all the chaos in the final 4 seconds.
11:46 Surprisingly, Butler core players are sophomores and juniors meaning the Bulldogs should retain it's nucleus. Matt Howard, Ronald Nored, Matt Zahn and Shawn Vanzant will return next season. There's no way Gordon Heyward and Shelvin Mack are sophomores. There's no way Heyward jumps to the NBA after this loss. This was no fluke. Butler has lost just 15 games in 3 seasons under Brad Stevens.
There are a few Duke teams which din not win the national championship which had more talent which is a testament to this being the best coaching job of his career.
11:56 Blue Devils Brian Zoubek and Jon Scheyer will be graduating but Coach K brings in transfer Seth Curry, the sharpshooting brother of Stephon Curry. Need a reason to hate Duke? Look no further than Curry's brother. Before transferring from Liberty in 2009, Seth Curry finished the season as the highest scoring freshman in the nation. Unlike his brother Stephon, loyalty runs as deep as a kiddie pool for Seth who announced his intentions to transfer from one of the few D-1 schools to recuit him out of high school. Their chance at a repeat also rests on junior Nlan Smith's decision to return for his senior campaign. The Dukies also reload with 4 blue chippers including Kyrie Erving who some believe is the best point guard prospect heading to Duke since Jason Williams.