HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Andrew Smith #44 of the Butler Bulldogs goes up for the ball against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Chris Steppig-Pool/Getty Images)

NCAA Tournament Championship: UConn Defeats Butler, 53-41

The UConn Huskies are your 2011 NCAA Tournament Champions!

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NCAA Championship Game 2011: UConn Huskies Defeat Butler Bulldogs, 53-41, To Win The National Title

Butler's season ended the same as last with a loss in the title game, but this year's game against Connecticut did not come down to a last second shot as it did against Duke. UConn used a strong second second half to pull away from Butler to win 53-41. 

In the pregame show analysts were saying that whoever would get to 70 points would win the game, and then Charles Barkley chimed in by saying whoever got to 60 points would win. The game was even a lower scoring game then Barkley thought himself.

The first half was a low scoring game, but the teams were exchanging baskets with the half ending on a Butler three-pointer by Shelvin Mack, giving Butler a 22-19 lead. Then the second half began and UConn started making shots and adjusted their game, pulling away to a double-digit lead and never looking back. 

Butler had their worst shooting game of the year as they ended the game shooting only 18 percent from the field and their star Matt Howard shot a woeful 1-of-13 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line to score seven points. UConn was not doing much better, but when shooting 34 percent nearly doubles what your opponent is shooting, UConn looks much better.

With approximately two minutes left in the game and Butler trailing by 14 points, Butler's Shelvin Mack scored his first points of the second half by sinking two straight three-pointers to cut the lead to eight points. It looked like Butler was going to make a final run to get back into the game, but UConn squashed the comeback attempt with four free-throws by Kemba Walker to seal the win.

Walker, who had a poor shooting night by going 5-of-19 from the field, did lead all scores with 16 points. The last team to score less then the 53 points and win the NCAA tournament was the 1949 Kentucky team, which scored 46 points in their win over Oklahoma A&M

This win by Connecticut gave the Huskies their third national title in school history, and all three have came under legendary head coach Jim Calhoun.


NCAA Championship Game 2011: Butler Vs. UConn

For the second straight year, the Butler Bulldogs are once again playing in the NCAA championship game, having lost to Duke, 61-59, last year. Meanwhile, the UConn Huskies seek their third tournament title, last having won it in 2004. Can the No. 8 Bulldogs overcome the No. 3 Huskies?

Butler entered the 2011 NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak and a Horizon League championship. It took several tough games to reach this point. In the second round, the Bulldogs defeated Old Dominion by two points, 60-58, which put them in a third-round game against No. 1 Pittsburgh. They squeaked by the Panthers, 71-70, and then had their easiest win of the tournament against No. 4 Wisconsin, 61-54. In the Elite Eight, head coach Brad Stevens' team ran into the No. 2 Florida Gators and needed overtime for the 74-71 victory. Butler then faced perhaps the hottest team in the tournament, the VCU Rams, in the Final Four. A close game for the most part, the Bulldogs came away with the 70-62 victory.

Butler's leading scorer is Matt Howard at 16.7 points, though followed closely by Shelvin Mack at 16.1 points. Howard leads the team in rebounds as well with 7.8 per game. Mack has picked things up during the tournament to average 21.8 points over five tournament games.

The story of the Huskies has been Kemba Walker, who made shot-after-shot, key play-after-key play for the Huskies in the Big East Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, Walker continued his hot streak with big games against Bucknell and Cincinnati. Having scored 33 points against Cincinnati, Walker put up 36 points on the No. 2 San Diego St. Aztecs in a 74-67 victory. With the help of Jeremy Lamb's 19 points, Walker added an additional 20 points to defeat Derrick Williams and the Arizona Wildcats to advance to the Final Four. Against Kentucky, Walker's 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists helped the Huskies to a 56-55 victory.

SB Nation's Andrew Sharp says go with the Huskies for the victory, but expect Butler to cover the spread. I'll also go with UConn because of Walker's presence, but think the Huskies can pull off a five- or six-point victory.

CBS will have the broadcast starting at 7:00 p.m. MT, but tip-off won't take place until 7:23 p.m.


Final Four: UConn Edges Out Kentucky For Trip To Title Game, 56-55

Most of the first half was a low scoring ugly game, but then Connecticut picked up their game and ended the half on an impressive 20-10 run to take a 31-21 led at intermission. During that run UConn's defense stepped up as well and held Kentucky to a cold stretch of 4-of-17 to finish the half. To start the second half Kentucky starting heating up by going on a14-2 run coming out of halftime and to secure 39-38 lead at the 12 minute mark. During that stretch Kentucky made three three-pointers. 

From that point on the game was a back-and-forth affair until the final buzzer, and it was, of course, UConn's Kemba Walker who led the Huskies to victory by leading all players with 18 points. Kentucky's Brandon Knight did his best to keep Kentucky in the game during the second half and ended up with 17 points.

In the final moments of the game Kentucky had a chance to win when UConn's Shabazz Napier turned the ball over with 16 seconds left, but Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins was able to get off an unsuccessful three-point shot off. Napier was able to grab the rebound on the miss shot, was fouled and then made the ensuing free throws to secure the game for Connecticut. 

Connecticut takes on Butler for the national title Monday night.


Final Four: Butler Defeats VCU 70-62 For A Return Trip To NCAA Championship Game

Butler's 70-62 win puts them back into the NCAA title game for the second year in a row and it marks the first time a team from a non-major league reached the title game since the 1983 and 1984 Houston team. The battle between Butler and VCU was a back-and-forth game throughout the evening, and the main difference in the game was the rebounding advantage that Butler had. The Bulldogs out rebounded VCU 46 to 30 overall and 15 to five on offensive rebounds. Even with that disparity VCU was able to keep this game close and have the outcome in doubt until about one minute left in the game.

VCU made their run in the tournament and after starting hot in the first half they cooled off and eventually ended up shooting 36 percent from three-point range. Butler was in the same boat as well and was shooting even worse then VCU, but they made up for it from the free throw line where Butler had 26 attempts compared to VCU's 13 attempts. 

VCU's Jamie Skeen did all he could to keep his team in the game as he scored a game high 27 points and was only one of two VCU players to score in double-figures. Brandon Rozzell who had been having an excellent tournament for VCU had one of hi worst games of the year by scoring only two points and five rebounds. 

To start the second half both VCU rushed out to a 7-0 lead, but that was the last time they would take the lead as Butler responded witha 10-2 run of their own to take a 56-52 lead. Butler kept onto that lead and when Butler seemed to have the game won with a 61-54 lead, but then VCU guard Jamie Skeen hit a three-pointer to make it 61-57 and was fouled with 2:34 left in the game. After a television timeout, Skeen missed the golden chance of converting on a four-point play and cut the lead to three. That was the end of the game as Butler's Matt Howard scored the next four points to put the game out reach for VCU.

Butler now takes on Connecticut in the national championship game Monday night.


Final Four 2011 Update: VCU Upsets No. 1 Kansas, 71-61, Will Face Butler

The No. 11 seed Va. Commonwealth Rams defeated the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks, 71-61, on Sunday afternoon to advance to the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Rams led by as many as 18 points in the contest before earning passage to the next round with a 10-point victory.

In the first half, the Rams finished with a 14-point lead, 41-27, and then saw it shrink to 46-44 with 12 minutes left to play. However, Kansas' poor shooting ended their chances at a comeback. The Jayhawks shot 35.5 percent from the field and made only 2-of-22 from beyond the arc. Marcus Morris gave his best in the game, but 20 point and 16 rebounds weren't enough. Markieff Morris finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

VCU's Jamie Skeen hada game-high 26 points and pulled down nine rebounds. He shot 6-of-17 from the field (4-of-7 from beyond the arc). He was successful 10 out of 12 times from the line. Bradford Burgess and Joey Rodriguez combined for 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Brandon Rozzell scored 12 points off the bench.

With Kansas' loss, there will be no No. 1s in the Final Four, the first since 2006.

George Mason in 2006 and LSU in 1986 were the only previous double-digit seeds to make the Final Four. Neither team advanced to the championship game. Can the VCU Rams turn the tides and do it? Find out on April 2 when the Rams face the Butler Bulldogs.


Butler Vs. Florida Final Score: Butler Defeats Florida In Overtime, 74-71, Heads To Final Four

The Butler Bulldogs advanced to the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament following their 74-71 overtime victory over the Florida Gators. This is the second year in a row the Bulldogs will be in the Final Four. They reached the championship game in 2010, but lost to Duke.

The Bulldogs battled back in the second half of the game with the Gators, losing by as many as 11 points, to tie the game at 60 at the end of the second half. Florida's Erving Walker attempted a three-pointer to win the game in regulation, but his miss sent the game into overtime.

Shelvin Mack scored five of his 27 points in the overtime, and those five points were the last five scored by Butler. He did it on a trey and two free throws. With eight second left, Erving Walker tried for a three to tie the game, but missed. Ronald Nored pulled down the rebound, but then had the ball stolen by Kenny Boynton, who attempted and missed the three as time expired.

Matt Howard and Khyle Marshall added 14 points and 10 points, respectively. For the Gators, Vernon Macklin finished with 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while Alex Tyus put up 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kenny Boynton finished with 17 points.

Butler now waits for the winner of Kansas-Va. Commonwealth in the Final Four.


NCAA Bracket 2011 Update: Arizona, Butler, UConn, Florida Reach Elite Eight

Four teams booked trips to the 2011 NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight on Thursday night. Arizona, Butler, UConn and Florida all will play on Saturday in hopes of advancing to the Final Four.

The Connecticut Huskies were the first team to book their trip, defeating the San Diego St. Aztecs, 74-67. The Aztecs kept it close a few times late in the game, but Kemba Walker was just too much. He dropped 36 points on the Aztecs on 12-of-25 shooting (4-of-8 from beyond the arc) and 8-of-10 free throws. Jeremy Lamb added an additional 24 points for the Huskies. San Diego State had four scorers with 10-plus points, but Kawhi Leonard finished with only 12 points and nine rebounds. He had four fouls and played only 29 minutes.

Connecticut will contest the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona played a thrilling game against Duke and ended the Blue Devils' hope for back-to-back national championships with 93-77 win. Derrick Williams dominated this game for the Wildcats. He finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds. He made 11-of-17 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. Despite a 28-point game from Kyrie Irving, the Blue Devils were outscored 55-33 in the second half. Williams' teammates, Lamont Jones and Solomon Hill, combined for 29 points.

The Florida Gators booked their trip to the Elite Eight with an overtime victory over Jimmer Fredette and BYU, 83-74. Fredette, injured and cut on the chin, scored 32 points, but none of his teammates scored more than nine points. Fredette put up 15 threes but made only three. The Gators' potent offense had four scorers with at least 16 points. Alex Tyus had a huge game for the Gators with 19 points and 17 rebounds.

The Butler Bulldogs will play Florida following their 61-54 victory over Wisconsin. Matt Howard led Butler with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Jordan Taylor came on strong for the Badgers in the second half, but his 21 points were not enough. His team shot 30.4 percent from the field.

SB Nation has you covered with an updated NCAA bracket.


NCAA Bracket 2011 Update: Sweet 16 Includes Underdogs Marquette, VCU

In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels will be joined in the Sweet 16 round by two No. 11 seeds: Marquette and VCU. Duke and UNC played early games on Sunday to clinch spots in the Sweet 16, but the underdogs took the spotlight in the later games.

No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth, coming off a win over USC to enter the field of 54 and then a second round victory over Georgetown, absolutely stunned No. 3 Purdue in a 94-76 victory. The source of heated debate over their inclusion in this year's tournament, the Rams have definitely shown that they belonged in it. Six VCU players scored in double digits, but none better than Bradford Burgess' 23 points. The Rams play the winner of No. 2 Notre Dame-No. 10 Florida State.

No. 11 Marquette played a much closer game with No. 3 Syracuse, but pulled out the 66-62 victory. With 27 seconds left in the game, Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom hit a three that broke the tie and gave the Golden Eagles a 62-59 lead. Syracuse fouled Marquette twice, and all four free throws were successful. Jae Crowder was key off the bench with 16 points and seven rebounds. They will face the UNC Tar Heels

No. 5 defeated No. 4 Texas, 70-69, on what has erupted into a controversial call when the ball was not in play. Texas called a time out and then failed to inbound the ball within the allotted five seconds. You can check out video of the five-second score here. Arizona will play No. 1 Duke.

No. 1 overall seed Ohio State manhandled George Mason, 98-66, to advance to the Sweet 16. They will play Brandon Knight and No. 4 Kentucky. No. 1 Kansas sent No. 9 Illinois home for the season with a 73-59 victory. They will play No. 12 Richmond

And make sure you visit SB Nation each morning for an updated printable 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket. That way, if you want to predict the games each day because your bracket has already been ruined, SB Nation has you covered.


NCAA Bracket Update 2011: Butler's Upset Victory, San Diego State's Two OT Victory, Jimmer Fredette Highlight Day's Action

We have one day of game left to determine the Sweet 16 teams. Here are the teams that have already booked their trips on Saturday:

No. 1 Pitt lost to No. 8 Butler, 71-70, in the final seven seconds with a late foul call on Pitt. Butler will play Wisconsin

No. 2 San Diego State needed two overtime periods to do it, but they defeated No. 7 Temple, 71-64. The Aztecs overcame poor shooting and costly turnovers with plenty of help from Kawhi Leonard's and Billy White's 16 points each. Lavoy Allen (12 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double and Rahlir Jefferson was a presence around the glass with 12 rebounds. The Aztecs play the winner of UConn-Cincinnati.

No. 2 Florida sent No. 7 UCLA home for the season following their 73-65 victory. Erving Walker scored 21 points for the Gators. They will play No. 3 BYU.

No. 3 BYU easily took care of No. 11 Gonzaga, 89-67, on the strength of Jimmer Fredette's 34 points. Fredette sank seven three-pointers. They will face No. 2 Florida.

No. 4 Wisconsin played a back-and-forth game with No. 5 Kansas State and emerged with the 70-65 victory. Jacob Pullen scored 38 points for the Wildcats, but the Badgers' Jordan Taylor had the key move of the game when he blocked Pullen's three-point shot with two seconds left in the game. The Badgers will play Butler.

No. 4 Kentucky didn't need last-second heroics in this round, soundly defeating West Virginia, 71-63. Brandon Knight, who hit the game-winning shot against Princeton, scored 30 points. Kentucky will play the winner of Ohio State-George Mason.

No. 12 Richmond dominated No. 13 Morehead State, 65-48. Kenneth Faried's 11 points and 13 rebounds were not enough for Morehead State to overcome the Spiders. The Spiders shot 47.3 percent from the field with Justin Harper scoring 19 points. Richmond must wait until Sunday to find out if they will play Kansas or Illinois.

And make sure you visit SB Nation each morning for an updated printable 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket. That way, if you want to predict the games each day because your bracket has already been ruined, SB Nation has you covered.


NCAA Bracket Update: Butler Upsets No. 1 Pitt, 71-70

The No. 8 Butler Bulldogs upset No. 1 Pittsburgh, 71-70, with a last-second victory after having an eight-point lead at halftime. With seven second left, Butler was down, 69-68, but Andrew Smith made a layup to give the team the lead. Then Butler committed a foul that put Pittsburgh at the free throw line for two.

Gilbert Brown made the first free throw to tie the game, but missed the second one. On the ensuing rebound attempt, Pitt's Nasir Robinson committed a foul on Matt Howard, sending Howard to the line. He made the first free throw to make the score 71-70, but missed the second. Pitt got the rebound but time expired, giving Butler the victory.

Shelvin Mack scored 30 points for Butler, hitting 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. Matt Howard added 16 points, the only other Bulldog to score in double digits.

Pitt's Gilbert Brown led the team with 24 points, while Brad Wanamaker pulled down six boards and dished the ball out for six assists. They outscored Butler 40-33 in the second half.

Butler will face the winner of the Wisconsin-Kansas State game


March Madness 2011 Schedule: Third Round Games At The Pepsi Center Set

The Pepsi Center will be rocking with more 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday with two more games before the winning teams head off to other regional host sites. On Thursday, No. 13 Morehead State upset No. 4 Louisville and No. 12 Richmond sent No. 5 Vanderbilt back to Nashville, Tenn. The two teams will play each other on Saturday for the right to claim on of the Southwest region's spot in the Sweet 16.

In the Southeast region, No. 3 BYU beat No. 14 Wofford and will play No. 11 Gonzaga, who defeated No. 6 St. John's. The winner of that game will play the winner of the No. 2 Florida-No. 7 UCLA matchup in the Sweet 16.

According to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Forecast for the New York Times, Richmond has a 68 percent chance of advancing to the Sweet 16 over Morehead State, while BYU has just a 56 percent chance of moving past Gonzaga.

Here are the game times:

Morehead St. Eagles Vs. Richmond Spiders, 3:00 p.m. MT, CBS
BYU Cougars Vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs, 5:45 p.m. MT, CBS

You can get the latest printable NCAA Tournament 2011 bracket here.


NCAA Bracket 2011 Update: Upsets, Exciting Finishes Aplenty On First Day

The 2011 NCAA Tournament had its real start on Thursday when the field of 64 began play, and there was plenty of excitement to go around. The upset of the day was No. 13 Morehead State defeating No. 4 Louisville, 62-61. But No. 12 Richmond sent No. 5 Vanderbilt home with a three-point victory, 69-66. And No. 11 Gonzaga was clearly the better team in their 86-71 victory over St. John's.

Higher seeds that survived scares include No. 8 Butler with a game-winning tip-in over No. 9 Old Dominion, 60-58. No. 7 Temple's Juan Fernandez made a desperation shot as time expired to lead the Owls 66-64 over No. 10 Penn St. The No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats almost joined Louisville in the "lost to a No. 13 seed" category, but freshman Brandon Knight made his first bucket of the game to give the Wildcats a 59-57 victory. No. 7 UCLA coughed up a 23-point second half lead to No. 10 Michigan St., but stayed in the lead and finished with a 78-76 lead.

San Diego St., a No. 2 seed, picked up their first NCAA Tournament win after dropping their first six. They defeated the Northern Colorado Bears, 68-50, who played a tough first half but depended too much on Devon Beitzel. Outside of him, there was no real other scoring option.

Pitt, Florida, BYU, UConn, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Cincinnati all advanced to the third round. Will Friday's games be as exciting?


NCAA Tournament Bracket Update 2011: Texas-San Antonio, Advance To Second Round

The final field of 64 is set for the 2011 NCAA Tournament after Texas-San Antonio and Virginia Commonwealth won their opening round games in the First Four. They join UNC-Asheville and Clemson as the other members of the First Four.

Texas-San Antonio defeated Alabama St., 70-61, in the first game of the night. Melvin Johnson III had a big scoring night with 29 points. He was 9-of-17 from the field and 9-of-13 at the free throw line. Freshman Jeromie Hill added a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The bench scored only nine points. Alabama State never looked quite into it, but did narrow a 27-point deficit at halftime to only a nine-point loss.

The Va. Commonwealth Rams won a tough game against the USC Trojans, 59-46. Neither team shot the ball that well, the Rams at 33.9 percent and the Trojans at 39.5 percent. The Rams put up 24 three-pointers, but made only nine. The Trojans threw up nine treys, sinking only one. The Trojans' Donte Smith went 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. VCU forward Jamie Skeen led the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Texas-San Antonio now plays as the No. 16 seed against No. 1 seed Ohio St. Virginia Commonwealth takes an 11 seed and faces No. 6 Georgetown. Both games will be played on Friday.


March Madness 2011 Bracket Update: Clemson Easily Handles UAB, 70-52

The UAB Blazers' loss to the Clemson Tigers, 70-52, certainly did not help convince anyone that they were the correct team to make the tournament over the Colorado Buffaloes. The Tigers earned a 12 seed and will face the No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers in the East region.

Midway through the first half Clemson had a 25-7 lead, outclassing the Blazers. The Blazers narrowed it to a 12-point lead at the end of the first half. However, UAB looked completely out of it late in the second half after their leader, Aaron Johnson, went down with what is reportedly a broken tibia. A Clemson player attempted a layup and wound up kicking Johnson in the process. Johnson then landed on the ground and hurt his leg. Johnson had a game-high six assists, but five of the team's 19 turnovers as well.

The Blazers did shoot well from beyond the arc, with Jamarr Sanders (19 points) and Dexter Fields (12 points) hitting on 9-of-16 shots.

Clemson's Jerai Grant had game-highs with 22 points and eight rebounds. He made 10-of-16 shots to help the Tigers shoot 51 percent from the field. Milton Jennings added 11 points off the bench, while Devin Booker and Tanner Smith each contributed 10. Booker pulled down seven boards and Smith stole the ball four times.

The NCAA Selection Committee certainly doesn't look good after this UAB loss.


March Madness Bracket 2011: First Four - UNC-Asheville Advances To Second Round

The first game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament is over and now the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs advance in the March Madness bracket to face No. 1 Pittsburgh in the Southeast regional. They defeated the Ark.-Little Rock Trojans in overtime, 81-77.

The Bulldogs were down for most of the game, but recovered during the final 10 minutes of the second half to send the game to overtime. UNC-A's Matt Dickey hit the game-tying three-pointer with 13 second left in the game, while Ark.-Little Rock's Matt Mouzy missed a three as time expired.

With 1:16 left in overtime the Bulldogs were down 77-76, but the Trojans kept fouling J.P. Primm, who made five free throws at the end of the game. The Bulldogs were 23-of-28 from the line for the night. Primm had 22 points and made 12-of-14 from the line. Matt Dickey added 22 points as well.

Ark.-Little Rock had strong games from Alex Garcia-Mendoza (21 points) and Soloman Bozeman (18 points), but still fell short.

It's an uphill battle for the Bulldogs against Pitt.

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