Houston — We’re told this is one of the more improbable National Championship games in the history of the sport. We have two teams that lost a combined 18 games in the regular season — the most ever in a title game. We have a No. 3 seed that went .500 in the Big East and a No. 8 seed that lost five games in the 11th-rated conference, according to the RPI.
But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Maybe this is what we should have expected. Not back in late January or early February, when UConn and Butler were struggling, both looking like teams that would have trouble winning a game in the NCAA Tournament — if they even got that far. But maybe we should have expected this matchup when the Field of 68 was announced. By that time, both of these clubs had hit their stride, with UConn winning five games in five nights en route to an amazing Big East title and Butler capturing the Horizon League Tournament title on the home court of top seed Milwaukee with surprising ease, 59–44.
Should we be surprised when the best player in America, UConn guard Kemba Walker, has his team in the national title game? Should we be surprised when the defending national runner-up is back in the title game, even with the loss of its best player, Gordon Hayward.
We are surprised, but we shouldn’t be.