Facts & figures What: NCAA Tournament championship game When: Tonight (tip scheduled for 9:23 p.m.) Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston TV, Radio: WFSB-3, WTIC-AM 1080 Records: No. 3 seed UConn 31-9; No. 8 seed Butler 28-9 Series: First meeting. How they arrived here: UConn beat No. 14 Bucknell and No. 6 Cincinnati in Washington, No. 2 San Diego State and No. 5 Arizona in Anaheim, Calif., and No. 4 Kentucky on Saturday night in Houston. Butler toppled No. 9 Old Dominion and No. 1 Pittsburgh in Washington, No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 2 Florida in New Orleans and No. 11 VCU on Saturday night in Houston. NCAA Tournament history: UConn is 49-27 in tournament games and owns two national titles (1999 and 2004). The Huskies are appearing in their fourth Final Four and third national title game. Butler is making its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance and is 18-10 in tournament games. Worth noting: Butler returns to the title game for the second consecutive year ... UConn coach Jim Calhoun has a chance to join Kentucky's Adolph Rupp, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, UCLA's John Wooden and Indiana's Bobby Knight as the only coaches to win three or more national championships. He would also be the oldest coach to ever win a title ... The Bulldogs are 10-1 in their last 11 NCAA Tournament games. The lone loss was a 61-59 defeat against Duke in last year's championship game ... Butler enters the game with 14 straight victories while the Huskies have won 10 in a row ... Butler is the first runner-up to return to the title game since Duke did it in 1991 ... The Huskies play their 41st game of the year, setting a school record and a modern-era college basketball record. It is the most games played in a season since Oregon played 45 games in 1944-45 ... Butler's 70-62 victory against VCU was its largest margin in the tournament. It had won its previous four games by a combined 13 points ... UConn's 56 points against Kentucky matched a season low ... UConn is 13-0 in neutral-site games this year ... Butler is the first team to reach consecutive Final Fours without being seeded No. 1 or No. 2 ... The Bulldogs are 1-1 against Big East teams this year, beating Pittsburgh but getting drubbed at Louisville on Nov. 16.
Butler bulldogs The skinny Shelvin Mack had 24 points and was 5 of 6 from 3-point range in the win over VCU. When he started connecting from the outside is when the Bulldogs started putting some space between themselves and the Rams. Matt Howard deserves co-star billing as he had 17 points and eight rebounds against VCU. Both have been instrumental in getting Butler back to the title game for a second straight year. Howard's tip-in at the buzzer to beat Old Dominion in the opening round was followed by him making the winning free throw with less than a second to play in the victory over Pittsburgh. COACH Brad Stevens, despite being just 34, is being lauded as one of the best in the coaching profession. His ability to motivate his team while keeping a cool demeanor has made him the talk of the NCAA tournament for a second straight year. His decision to remain at Butler after last year's run to the championship game has added to his persona as the ideal college coach. He is already 10 wins ahead of the previous record for best four-year start by a coach with a 117-24 mark. KEY POINT The Bulldogs have been here before, and most of that team is back. Butler plays solid defense and doesn't make mistakes on offense, but it's the way the Bulldogs play so hard and don't let the disparity in talent affect them that has made them one of the country's favorite teams at this time of year. The Bulldogs showed they have some ability up front by outrebounding VCU 48-32, including 16-6 on the offensive end.
Roster Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown 1 Shelvin Mack G 6-3 215 Jr Lexington, Ky. 2 Shawn Vanzant G 6-0 172 Sr Tampa, Fla. 3 Zach Hahn G 6-1 176 Sr New Castle, Ind. 4 Erik Fromm F 6-9 220 Fr Bloomington, Ind. 5 Ronald Nored G 6-0 174 Jr Homewood, Ala. 11 Alex Anglin G-F 6-5 177 Sr Kokomo, Ind. 20 Chrishawn Hopkins G 6-1 165 Fr Indianapolis 22 Grant Leiendecker G 6-5 182 Sr Fort Wayne, Ind. 23 Khyle Marshall F 6-7 210 Fr Davie, Fla. 30 Emerson Kampen C 6-9 189 So Yorktown, Ind. 32 Garrett Butcher F 6-7 209 Jr Ellettsville, Ind. 33 Chase Stigall G 6-4 195 So New Castle, Ind. 44 Andrew Smith C 6-11 239 So Indianapolis 54 Matt Howard F 6-8 230 Sr Connersville, Ind. Butler’s Ronald Nored and Matt Howard
Game by game BU Opp. 83 Marian, Ind. 54 73 at Louisville 88 88 Ball St. 55 70 at Siena 57 68 Evansville, OT 71 65 at Loyola of Chicago 63 70 at Duke 82 49 at Xavier 51 91 MVSU 71 83 Stanford 50 74 Utah-x 62 67 Florida St.-x 64 84 Washington St.-x 68 76 Valparaiso 59 52 at Wis.-Milwaukee 76 79 Cleveland St. 56 84 Youngstown St. 79 87 at Detroit 64 64 at Wright St. 69 81 Wis.-Green Bay 75 80 Wis.-Milwaukee, OT 86 79 at Valparaiso, OT 85 60 at Youngstown St. 62 73 at Cleveland St. 61 72 Ill.-Chicago 65 71 Wright St. 63 66 Detroit 51 64 at Wis.-Green Bay 62 79 at Ill.-Chicago 52 63 Loyola of Chicago 56 76 Cleveland St.-y 68 59 Wis.-Milwaukee-y 44 60 Old Dominion-z 58 71 Pittsburgh-z 70 61 Wisconsin-z 54 Florida, OT-z 71 70 VCU 62 x-Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic y-Horizon League Tournament z-NCAA Tournament
Uconn huskies The skinny STAR Kemba Walker showed again why he is having one of the best seasons in recent memory. He had 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the win over Kentucky. Despite being guarded by a much bigger player in DeAndreLiggins, Walker, who played all 40 minutes, was able to find his teammates to score and still made big shots himself. He accounted for 32 of the Huskies' 56 points. The All-America is averaging over 26 points a game in the postseason, a 10-game stretch in 25 days. COACH At 68, Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun would become the oldest coach to win a national championship. It would be his third title and would put him in a group with John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight to win at least that many. He has a career record of 854-607 placing him sixth on the all-time wins list and third among active coaches behind Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. The Huskies' Big East championship was Calhoun's record seventh. KEY POINT The Huskies are on a roll over the last 10 games with seven of the opponents being ranked in the Top 25. It hasn't all been Walker. Freshman Jeremy Lamb had 12 points and four assists against Kentucky, and Alex Oriakhi had eight points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Shabazz Napier had quite a final 16 seconds against the Wildcats, turning the ball over then coming up with a rebound with 3 seconds left and then made both ends of a 1-and-1 with 1.7 seconds left for a four-point lead.
Roster Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown 1 Enosch Wolf C 7-1 260 Fr Goettingen, Germany 2 Donnell Beverly G 6-4 190 Sr Los Angeles 3 Jeremy Lamb G-F 6-5 185 Fr Norcross, Ga. 4 Jamal Coombs-McDaniel F 6-7 210 So Dorchester, Mass. 5 NielsGiffey G-F 6-7 210 Fr Berlin, Germany 10 Tyler Olander F 6-9 225 Fr Mansfield, Conn. 13 Shabazz Napier G 6-0 170 Fr Randolph, Mass. 15 Kemba Walker G 6-1 172 Jr Bronx, N.Y. 21 Kyle Bailey G 6-3 170 Sr Lancaster, N.H. 22 Roscoe Smith F 6-8 205 Fr Baltimore 23 Benjamin Stewart F 6-5 205 Jr Denver 34 Alex Oriakhi F-C 6-9 240 So Lowell, Mass. 35 Charles Okwandu C 7-0 255 Sr Lagos, Nigeria