For Florida, the final four words about Butler are: they’ve done it, again!

The No. 8 Butler Bulldogs have reached the Final Four for the second consecutive year after stunning No. 2 Florida, 74-71, in overtime of the Southeast Region Finals on March 26 in New Orleans.

Butler will now face either VCU or Kansas in the Final Four, just one year after shocking the nation by going toe-to-toe with the Duke Blue Devils in the National Championship.

But this year, Butler is no “Cinderella” act. Everyone knows how good they are, even top contenders like Florida (29-8).

The Gators didn’t hold back in their offensive attack, with three players scoring at least 14 points. Senior center Vernon Macklin led Florida with 25 points, while sophomore guard Kenny Boynton followed with 17 and senior forward Alex Tyus added 14.

But Butler junior guard Shelvin Mack stole the show, scoring a game-high 27 points, including a clutch three-point shot late in the game that sealed the win. Senior forward Matt Howard added 14 to Butler’s total.

“We just kind of stayed together, stayed the course, figured it out, and just played resiliently,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said during the postgame press conference. “I’m incredibly proud of these guys. They carried their coach in a big way. Our players did a great job, and just a special group. We’re really lucky that they’re Butler Bulldogs.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor