Friday, March 23, 2007

Butler-Florida: In the Year 2000

Given that there were 422,119 stories about UCLA's Ben Howland and Pitt's Jamie Dixon this week (capped off with a truly horrific basketball game between the two teams), I was surprised that more people weren't tackling the Butler-Florida angle. Specifically that the two teams played an epic contest back in "the year 2000" (you have to say it like the old Conan O'Brien sketch to get the proper effect).

Consider the following:

- It was a classic 5-12 matchup in a year in which all the five seeds won (the first time that had happened in over a decade and the last time it happened until this year).

- Butler nearly had a victory against a more talented Florida team.

- Mike Miller hit a buzzer beater to lift the Gators to victory; a shot that was arguably the most memorable in school history, up to and including last year's title run.

- Florida used that win to propel themselves on a fabulous tourney run that included an upset of top-seeded Duke in the regional semis and an appearance in the national title game.

If you ask me, that makes the 2000 Florida-Butler matchup arguably one of the five best and most important first round games of the last decade. And here they are playing each other again, under similar circumstances (the perceived talent disparity, the chance for Butler to preempt a deep Florida run), and nobody even mentions it! Sometimes I just don't quite understand the sports media.

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