The NCAA bracket results 2011 have yielded two regional champions. They both advanced in a different fashion, and one of them had a more surprising run through the NCAA tournament than the other. Yet in their own ways, Butler and Connecticut have stunned everyone by getting here, although these results are technically nothing new for both of them.
Butler’s second consecutive Final Four berth may have come more out of nowhere than the last one, since last year’s team was already red hot before their run. But this year’s Bulldogs were 14-9 in February and were three seeds lower than last season’s national runner-up. Yet they have returned to the promised land, with wins from buzzer beaters, controversial calls, and a big comeback against Florida.
Although it’s easy to say that Butler stunned the world again, having a team reach two Final Fours in a row is not unprecedented — even for midmajors. But what Connecticut has done is something else, as they have defied low expectations twice over.
Before the season even started, the Huskies were counted out, until they won the Maui Invitational. Yet after they crashed back down in the Big East, they were dismissed again, as a .500 Big East school and the ninth seed in their conference tournament. Yet three weeks later, they are back in the NCAA Final Four for the second time in three years.
After winning five games in five days in New York, Connecticut got a bit more rest in between Big Dance victories. Nevertheless, they breezed past Bucknell and Cincinnati, then held off charges from West Coast favorites San Diego State and Arizona. Saturday night’s 65-63 victory had the Huskies and Wildcats trading spurts, yet two late three-point misses from Arizona finally sent Connecticut on to Houston.
Kemba Walker powered them through New York, and the first three games of this tournament. However, they only needed 20 points from him as Jeremy Lamb fueled the final charge to give them the lead for good. Since they won without Walker overwhelming everyone this time, it sends an even scarier message through the bracket.
Yet the results at Madison Square Garden made the Huskies a trendy Final Four pick before the Big Dance started. Therefore, their success wasn’t that shocking at the end, although it was at various points beforehand. On the other hand, Butler had everyone overlooking them, right up until their win over Pittsburgh last Saturday.
The Bulldogs and Huskies have become Final Four veterans, so historically, their place on the bracket is conventional. However, most of the 2011 NCAA tournament picks didn’t have both of them in Houston — and they had neither of them there as recently as three weeks ago. But to everyone’s differing levels of surprise, they are back again.
NCAA.com- “Men’s Basketball”
Yahoo Sports- “In even more improbable fashion than last year, Butler reaches Final Four”
ESPN- “Connecticut’s remarkable run continues”