Mar 23, 2013, 11:04 PM EDT
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.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Florida’s backcourt depth received a big boost this week.
Oct 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Georgia State loses Kevin Ware with a high ankle sprain.
Oct 21, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
American went from ninth in the Patriot League preseason polls to a No. 15 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Safe to say, the Eagles will be viewed much differently this time around with four returning starters.
Oct 21, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
Wyoming becomes a contender in the Mountain West Conference with the return of senior forward Larry Nance Jr.
Oct 21, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
Clemson added a junior college post that could come in and make an immediate impact.
Oct 21, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
The Aggies now have one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
Oct 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
American was the surprise team in the Patriot League a season ago. Can they repeat as league champs?
Oct 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
No surprise that Murray State and Belmont are expected to be at the top of the league.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
L.J. Rose is expected to return around Christmas.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
The Gators are good enough to win the SEC. They have enough question marks to finish outside the top 25 as well.
Oct 21, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT
That fan looks like he’s enjoying things.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
These are the players to keep an eye on if you like seeing aerial acrobatics.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Kansas State is losing a redshirt freshman to transfer.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Virginia got a very skilled guard in the 2016 class.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
Florida landed an in-state Class of 2015 wing to make it a four-man class.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
Memphis found a 2016 guard to join center Nick Marshall in the recruiting class.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
SMU could be in trouble if a second-team all-league pick is ruled ineligible.
Oct 20, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
News and notes from the world of college basketball recruiting.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Lorenzo Romar now has a six-man recruiting class for 2015.
Oct 20, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Oklahoma has a chance to be the second-best team in the Big 12, especially if a key player receives a waiver.
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