Monday, April 05, 2010

Tiny Butler

I am getting (as Cheech Marin used to say) a little sick up and fed with the dominant story of mighty Duke versus tiny Butler.

...on the verge of another improbable David-vs.-Goliath story, with tiny Butler in the NCAA national championship game against mighty Duke, you have to understand that the impact of this historic confrontation can't be contained within Indiana's boundaries.

It's so much bigger than that. Butler's presence in the national championship game is a true American sports success story.

"This," said Butler guard Ronald Nored, "could never happen in major-college football."


Sure, Butler has 4,500 students.

But Duke has only 6,250 undergrad students.

Michigan State, by contrast, has 47,000 students. West Virginia U has 30,000. U of NC, Duke's arch-rival (and my own favorite team) has 25,000 students.

Duke is also "tiny." But Duke kicked WVU's ass, and nobody talked about "David" winning that game. Duke beat UNC like a drum this year, and nobody raved about the tiny school winning.

The reason that Butler is not favored to win tonight is NOT that they are tiny. The reason is that Butler is not very good.

The real story (and frequent readers here know I am no Duke fan) is that Duke, in spite of being 1/4 the size of its most frequent rivals, consistently wins, doesn't cheat, and graduates all of its players with actual college degrees in actual college subjects. Why isn't THAT the story here:

Duke University provides education to students who otherwise could never afford it, and manages to win while doing it!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

While the student body comparisons are not exactly David/Goliath worthy, the athletic budget comparisons are not so far off the mark: http://www.indystar.com/article/20100405/SPORTS15/4050354

Butler also does a pretty good job with respect to enforcing high academic standards for student athletes.

Fundman and I will drink one for you tonight with hope that we take down the evil Duke empire! Unless you're actually rooting for the evil Duke empire/employer!

-Fundman's Wife

Anonymous said...

OH for heaven's sake.

DUDE, stop whining!!!!

Chris said...

I think you are slightly off in your characterization, Prof. Munger. Rather than say that Butler is not very good(even though obviously meant as a comparative statement in reference to Duke), you should say Butler is not consistently good over a long span of time. They've played marvelously well in the later tournament games, if occasionally a bit sloppy. I do think that Duke's longtime and consistently good program is very impressive, moreso even then Butler's special success this year.

As a last note, I am a Butler graduate student and will be hoping for an upset, but I would be happy with just a well-played game from both sides. A blowout would be no fun for anyone, I think.

Mungowitz said...

Chris is quite right, of course. Butler is in fact very, very good (ask MSU). So, what I said was wrong, and it was wrong in just the way that Chris points out.

Duke is favored because of their consistent success. Butler is the underdog because they may have been "lucky."

But if Butler wins tonight, then no one can say it was all just luck.

Dirty Davey said...

The other thing is that Butler plays into the legend that "true" basketball is found in small-town high school gymnasiums in Indiana. The Indiana mythos, and the boost it would be given by a Butler win tonight, is almost enough to make me cheer for Duke. Not quite, but almost.

Dirty Davey said...

And re: Chris/Munger comments... one other issue is that this is likely the best Butler team to have come along in a long time, if ever... whereas, looking at it as objectively as this Tar Heel fan can, this is not actually among the more talented Duke teams of the Coach K era.

I can see JJ Redick watching this game and cheering for Duke, but in the back of his head he's hearing a voice saying "Dammit, MY team could have beaten THIS Duke team eight games out of ten! Why do THEY get so lucky?"

David said...

Duke, pffft. Like we're going to listen to a guy that got the pin factory wrong.

Anonymous said...

compare their bball budgets