Indianaoplis Little Butler has faced one big test after another in its magical run through the NCAA Tournament.
And the biggest awaits in Monday night’s title game: Duke, winner take all.
“One thing about us is there’s never a sense of fear,” Ronald Nored said. “We’re confident in everything we do.”
They’d better be. Butler (33-4) is playing for its first national title — in its hometown no less — and its proud fans will be thrilled no matter what the final score is. Duke (34-5) is a three-time national champion.
The Blue Devils are rolling, too, crushing a West Virginia team that many considered the best of the Big East.
“As a Butler coach and a Butler fan, I have no doubt I’m going to be proud of them at the end of the game,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said after his squad’s 52-50 victory over Michigan State on Saturday night. “I think you take some peace with that and say, ’Give it all you can.’ That’s what our guys are trying to do.”
Though it is led by Gordon Hayward, the baby-faced, smooth-shooting forward who could play on any team, at any school, the Bulldogs pride themselves on winning “The Butler Way.” That’s defense, ball control, discipline and teamwork, and all of it was on display against the Spartans on Saturday night.