The 2011 National Champion for college basketball will be decided tonight as the Connecticut Huskies face the Butler Bulldogs.
The 2011 March Madness college basketball tournament will conclude on Monday as the Connecticut Huskies face the Butler Bulldogs in the national championship game.
CBS have the television coverage and tip-time is scheduled for 9:23pm ET with Houston's Reliant Stadium hosting.
The game features two teams that struggled at points during the regular season but both have peaked at the right time.
Connecticut enter the final with a 31-9 record and winners of 10 straight games although there was a time when their season looked like a write-off. UCONN actually lost four of their last five games of their regular season before sweeping through the Big East tournament, their region in the March Madness draw, and now possibly the Final Four.
Butler enter the final with a 28-9 record and they are into the championship for the second straight year. The Bulldogs have not lost a game since February 3rd at Youngstown State although only a handful of their wins since that time have been against top teams.
Both teams in the championship game are under pressure but, despite the "we've got nothing to lose" attitude that low seeds often represent themselves as having, Butler's coach could be under more.
Butler are a poor example of a Cinderella team because they made the national championship last year. If the Bulldogs do not win this year coach Brad Stevens starts to become a goose-egger as he will be 0-2 in national finals.
If UCONN lose tonight no one can really criticize coach Jim Calhoun too much as he's won two national titles already (1999, 2004).
As far as players go, the pressure is on Connecticut as they have the best player in the game in Kemba Walker, a shoe-in for the NBA.
Shelvin Mack is the player to fear on Butler and he looks like the tournament MVP should the Bulldogs win.
Typically a Big East team with a 31-9 record is much better than a Horizon League team with a 28-9 record. However the season records are best thrown out in this case as both teams morphed during the latter parts of the season: Connecticut in March, Butler in February.
Nothing short of a close game can be expected and what's important to note about that is that UCONN almost choked twice down the stretch of two recent close games. Arizona, in the Elite 8, almost burned the Huskies at the buzzer and Kentucky had a reasonable look at making a shot that could have sent the Huskies packing as well.
Butler have executed in the stretch of close March Madness games and that is what has kept them alive. That resilience is a better characteristic to have heading into a winner-take-all scenario.
Prediction: Butler by 2.