Subject: [SocialistWorker.org] Hoosiers all over again?
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Column: Dave Zirin
======== HOOSIERS ALL OVER AGAIN? ============================================
CBS has been calling Monday's NCAA finals game an epic battle for the Indiana
underdog--but this "underdog" hasn't lost a game since December.
April 5, 2010
"WILL IT be a Jimmy Chitwood-Bobby Plump kind of moment?" So said announcer
Jim Nantz as it became clear that the mighty Duke Blue Devils, with their
championship pedigree, would face the unsung Butler Bulldogs in Monday's NCAA
men's basketball final.
The Jimmy Chitwood/Bobby Plump reference is, of course, a nod to the classic
sports film /Hoosiers/, where the tiny team from Hickory High wins the
Indiana state championship against its mighty big city opponent.
For the uninitiated, Butler University is located in Indiana, and the finals
are in Indiana just seven miles from campus. Therefore, according to the
script laid out by CBS, Duke, led by USA Basketball head coach Mike
Krzyzewski, is the big, bad Goliath, and Butler plays David, with little more
than a prayer's chance. It's an attractive script. It's also complete hooey.
Butler is no Hickory High, and Monday's final game is far more evenly matched
than the announcers were letting on. As Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said
before their excruciating two-point loss to the Bulldogs in Saturday's
semifinal, "Butler is no Cinderella."
He's absolutely right. They were a top 10 team in the preseason and finished
in the top 10 during the regular season. They also haven't lost a game since
December. They've busted brackets in offices around the country, and in
retrospect, it's our fault for overlooking them.
As for Duke, despite the arrogance they wear as casually as a cardigan, the
Blue Devils are no one's Goliath. This is Coach K's first trip to the Final
Four since 2004, and they last won a title in 2001. This team in particular,
while scrappy and workmanlike, lacks players who can create their own shots
and depends mightily on three-pointers and second-chance opportunities.
Butler, on the other hand, will have the best, most NBA-ready player on the
court Monday in forward Gordon Haywood. They have an opportunistic team that
shot only 31 percent against Final Four opponent Michigan State, and still
eked out a victory. They will also have a hometown Hoosiers crowd cheering
lustily after every basket.
Duke might fancy itself as Goliath, but it's Butler that knows how to shoot
the rock when it counts. And that's historically been bad news for Goliath.
/First published at/ TheNation.com .
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Columnist: Dave Zirin
Dave Zirin is the coauthor, with John Carlos, of /The John Carlos Story/ ,
and author of /Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love/  and
/A People's History of Sports in the United States/ , as well as two
collections of his sports writings, /Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain,
Politics and Promise of Sports/  and /What's My Name, Fool? Sports and
Resistance in the United States/ . He is a columnist for TheNation.com
; his writings are also featured at his Edge of Sports  Web site.
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