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Marquette beats Butler as the Bulldogs wind up on the wrong end of Butler Magic

Mar 23, 2013, 11:04 PM EDT

Butler v Marquette Getty Images

There aren’t two teams in the country that have had more games in recent memory come down to some kind of ridiculous finish. And given that the first two times these teams met, Rotnei Clarke hit a running 25-footer over two Marquette defenders, it only made sense that the ending of Friday’s matchup between the No. 3 seed Golden Eagles and the No. 6 seed Bulldogs left everyone surprised.

After Davante Gardner gifted Butler with a missed free throw up three with 22 seconds left, the Bulldogs got another present from Marquette’s big fella when he failed to corral a rebound of a missed Roosevelt Jones free throw. Butler, however, couldn’t find a way to get a good look at the rim, as Rotnei Clarke settled for a deep three that hit nothing but air.

With the score 72-70, Butler fouled and Gardner, this time, hit both with 4.7 seconds left, but that set off the insanity.

First, Emerson Kampen made his first tournament appearance and threw a 90-foot strike to Andrew Smith that led to a goaltend. On the ensuing inbounds, Marquette threw the ball away, giving it back to Butler with 2.9 seconds left and the score 74-72.

This time, however, Butler Magic had worn off, as Marquette was able to stifle whatever it was that Brad Stevens drew up in the huddle. The Bulldogs had to settle for Smith shooting a stumbling, 25-footer prayer that bounced harmlessly off the back board as the Golden Eagles kept on dancing:


And that, perhaps, was the only truly surprising part of what was the most thrilling game of the NCAA tournament to date.

Butler — the ultimate Cinderella, the program that, perhaps more than any other team in the country, defines March Madness — lost a game in the final seconds because they couldn’t execute. Because the last bit of luck, the game-deciding moment of brilliance, turned into their center stumbling and bumbling 30 feet from the rim.

These are the games that Butler wins.

Yet they are the ones heading home.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. eagles512 - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    God that dancing is so annoying

  2. lemfax - Mar 24, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    lucky shot
    inbound defense
    Half court defense


    Perimeter defense
    3pt shooting


  3. jlinatl - Mar 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Granted, the history is new. But Butler-Marquette may be the best rivalry in the new Big East. With the defecton of so many of the traditional programs, I can’t think of one better. I don’t think anything about recent Georgetown-Nova is better.

  4. metalhead65 - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    wait butler lost? I thought you guys were the #1 program in the state of Indiana? welcome back to reality now that Crean has rebuilt the program at IU you can resume your position at the bottom with dame as far as basketball programs in the state go. could not think of it happening to better fan base than butler whose fans had to ruin a good underdog story by trashing the IU program and their fans when they were down. it does not matter you beat them this year,they are the champions of the best conference in the country unlike your school. and more importantly their banners say national champs not runners up.

  5. mounties14 - Mar 25, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    I get tired out people of our great state not supporting each of our teams. This from a Purdue grad.

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