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Final Four: Butler Bulldogs Heading to National Title Game

In honor of the Butler Bulldogs improbable run to the Final Four, I figured I’d keep a running log of what is undoubtedly the most anticipated game featuring an Indiana College in the last 20 years. So if you were somehow locked in a closet and missed the game, or if you just want to relive the thrilling contest, I’ve got you covered. Let’s get to it.

Pregame: Here we are, just moments before tip-off, and I’m more excited than a five-year old on an Easter Egg hunt. The tension’s been building all week, and it’s time to finally find out if this Butler team’s as good as Indianapolis sports fans hope they are. I think they’re up to the challenge.

Watching Gordan Hayward (Brownsburg, Indiana) and the rest of the starters running onto the court for pregame introductions was the first official “I can’t believe Butler is actually playing in the Final Four” moment. I’m sure there are many more to come. The Bulldogs appeared a bit tight during the intros, perhaps a little intimidated by the swollen crowd of 70,000 people currently in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium. Michigan State on the other hand, they couldn’t be looser. Simulating group dice rolls, dancing when their names are called — the Spartans are acting like they’ve been here before. Oh wait, they have…

Game Time.

19:28: Well, that can’t be the way Brad Stevens drew it up. MSU’s Korie Lucious began things by draining a three, promptly followed by a Butler brick, and another three by Lucious. So much for a quick start.

18:02: Hayward stops the bleeding by pumping in a three of his own.

17:24: And another. It’s all tied up at six apiece. This is gonna be a fun.

16:51: Matt “The Moustache” Howard foul update: Zero. I doubt he stays blemish free for too much longer.

16:28: The Spartans Draymond Green trips over his own foot while attempting a post move, falling into Howard and losing the ball. Brrrrppp! Foul on Howard. Told you. It was inevitable. He’ll be joining Stevens on the bench for awhile.

15:51 Lucious appears to be injured. CBS caught him grimacing in pain on the bench, and right before they went to break he could be seen limping on the sidelines. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

SCORE UPDATE: 8-7 SPARTANS, 15:30 remaining in first half.

15:25: Tracy Wolfson just reported from the sidelines that Lucious “tweaked an ankle,” and that it’s something to “keep an eye on.” That was some good sideline reporting right there, almost like she was reading this blog. I hope we see more of her tonight, and not only because I want Lucious’ “tweak” to be something more severe. She’s a looker, that Wolfson.

14:30: Dang, Lucious is back on the court. So is Howard

14:16: And just like that, Howard picks up his second foul. This time offensive. He went to post up, got his legs tangled with the defender and they both hit the deck. Foul on The Moustache. Back to the bench. Probably won’t see him for the better part of the half. Let’s hope Alex Smith (Covenant Christian High School) and Avery Jukes ate a Power Bar before the game.

SCORE UPDATE: 16-9 SPARTANS, 14:00 remaining in first half.

10:11: Wow. Morgan just picked up his third foul. He’ll be watching the rest of the first half from the same spot as Howard, a good break for the Bulldogs.

4:09: Well, that was an uneventful six minutes. Shelvin Mack made a three to close the Spartans lead to 22-20, and then neither team scored for the next four minutes and 54 seconds. MSU’s Garrick Sherman finally made a layup to break the drought. As expected, the Bulldogs are playing great defense, but they can’t buy a bucket. They’re getting good shots, just not able to knock them down.

SCORE UPDATE: 28-25 SPARTANS, 1:53 remaining in first half.

0:30: Trailing by three with under a minute to go, the Dawgs force a steal, and Mack hits a transition three to tie the score. MSU can’t get a good shot off, and the two squads head to their respective locker rooms all tied at 28. According to Clark Kellogg, Butler should consider themselves lucky to be in that position considering Hayward and Mack combined for all of the Bulldogs first half field goals. I tend to agree with that assessment.

QUICK SIDE TANGENT: The Clark Kellogg/Barack Obama halftime Horse contest was surprisingly entertaining. Kellogg go up big early, missed a few shots on purpose — which Obama correctly called him out for at the end of the contest — and then watched as Obama, preaching the benefits of his wife’s newest program the whole time, knocked down long-distance lefty jumper after long-distance lefty jumper to prevail with the one-letter victory. I don’t care what your politics are, it’s pretty cool to have a Prez who can stroke the “J” like Obama can.

President Obama playing POTUS with Clark Kellog

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