There won't be any shortage of heart-warming stories regarding Butler's run to the Final Four.
The Bulldogs will be packaged as everything: plucky underdogs, overlooked contenders, defensive dynamos and the team from America's heartland who everyone will root for.
Maybe they're all of the above.
Paul Sakuma / AP
|Will Butler be celebrating more this week?
Few expected Butler to reach the Final Four. Just 0.3 percent of users on ESPN Tournament's Challenge had the Bulldogs in the Final Four. That's out of more than 3 million submissions. Among a shortlist of college analysts, only SI.com's Andy Staples took Butler this far. Perhaps that qualifies the Horizon League school as an underdog.
Then again, the Bulldogs were ranked in the Top 25 all season. Heck, we ranked 'em 10th in the preseason, just behind Duke and ahead of Cal and Tennessee. Sophomores Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack spent the summer playing in the U-19 USA basketball team. Matt Howard is a former league player of the year. Butler's got talent and has won 24 straight games. They're good. Simple as that.
And they're really good on defense. The Bulldogs are sixth on kenpom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency, ahead of West Virginia and Tennessee. They haven't allowed more than 60 points in a game since Feb. 26. Guards Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley badgers K-State stars Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemete into awful games on Saturday, just days after doing the same to Syracuse.
As for America's team, I suppose the only fans who won't be rooting for Butler are those of the other Final Four teams and anyone who doesn't like "Hoosiers."
Those still playing catch-up will have plenty to read all week, but the best place to start may be this story from SI's Luke Winn. It's a great read on the players, the coach, the school and everything that's gone into this Final Four run.
But if that's enough, try this.
That's right. Coach Brad Stevens celebrates victories by chest bumping freshman walk-on Emerson Kampen.
How can you not love this team?
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