The Butler Bulldogs have continued their improbable run through the NCAA with a victory Saturday night in their Final Four match-up against Michigan State.
Michigan State has long seemed like a staple in the NCAA tournament including 6 final four trips under coach Tom Izzo. Butler it was new terrain in their home state Indiana and city of Indianapolis but they have never been to the Final Four and now they are going to the Championship Game on Monday.
Butler came out and maintained a low scoring contest against Michigan State as both teams were tied at 28 points at halftime. Still, it was gritty defense, turnovers and excellence from the free-throw line that gave Butler their 25th straight victory.
The Bulldogs out rebounded the Spartans 11 to 8 on the offensive glass. They also held Michigan State to zero fast-break points and forced them into 16 turnovers.
The Butler Bulldogs are led by a 33 year old head coach Brad Stevens, the second youngest to ever make it to the NCAA Championship Game. On the court they were led by Gordan Hayward with 19 points. The physicalness of the game took its toll on the Bulldogs as Hayward had a bloody lip after the game. Shelvin Mack was sidelined with leg cramps for most of the second half. Matt Howards was knocked silly in a collision with Draymond Green. After the game Stevens said that he was going to have to meet with team trainers to see if Mack would be able to play Monday.
Besides the low scoring affair Butler only hit 30 percent from the field while Michigan State hit 43 percent from the field. The big difference in the game was from the free-throw line where Butler hit 71 percent compared to just 55.6 percent for the Spartans.
Now news groups like ESPN and others are making comparisons with this Butler team to another Indiana team, Milan who beat Muncie Central in 1954 for the High School State Championship. The storyline of Milan's 30-32 victory was recreated by Hollywood in the movie "Hoosiers" and a 42-40 Championship. Saturday night Butler was good enough to get a 52-50 victory over Michigan State.