Cinderella teams typically don’t make the national championship game, let alone win it. So when the Butler Bulldogs face the Duke Blue Devils in the title game on April 5, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs will be hoping to accomplish the unlikely.
Fourth-seeded Arizona’s 1997 win was the last time a school seeded lower than third claimed a championship.
The game will be a classic David vs. Goliath matchup, as Duke has been the model of consistency over the past two decades as one of the most recognizable programs of any collegiate sport.
Led by legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke will attempt to take home the school’s fourth championship since 1991. Butler however, doesn’t possess quite as much notoriety.
Most hoops fans nationwide couldn’t find Butler on a map, but when the crowd floods into Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium for the title game, there will be no question where Butler is located.
Butler’s campus is just under six miles away from the site of the Final Four and its Indianapolis ties have helped label Butler as the new “Hoosiers,” after the 1986 film that saw a small-town Indiana high school win the state championship.
But Butler may have to rethink their small school battle cry. Butler’s win over Michigan State in the semifinals extended their win streak to 25 games, the longest in the country.
Add that to their triumphs over Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State and Butler has now become one of the most popular schools in the country—a fact even Duke coach Krzyzewski has acknowledged.
“I think they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Krzyzewski told ESPN after Duke’s semifinal win over West Virginia on April 3. “I think Cinderella would be if somebody had eight, nine losses and pulled some upsets, stuff like that. I think they’ve won 25 in a row. They’ve beaten Syracuse and Kansas State and Michigan State tonight. I don’t really consider them Cinderella.”
Krzyzewski may have a point. With the nation’s longest winning streak on the line and an arena that will most likely be filled with Butler fans, it’s Duke that could be feeling like Cinderellas on championship night.