It was a rather anticlimactic end to an otherwise hyperclimactic season. Butler and UConn were not expected to make it this far, not even after Butler's national championship appearance last year, and not even after Kemba Walker carried the Huskies through the Big East Tournament.
Even Jim Calhoun could only sit back, smile and enjoy the ride as his young team fought its way though test after test, passing each time with flying colors.
On Monday night in Houston, the Huskies were crowned champions after finishing 9-9 in the Big East, a feat so remarkable that it will be etched into college hoops lore. Because of it, there is serious discussion about whether Walker deserves to be called the Greatest Player to ever wear 'UCONN' across their chest.
Jim Calhoun described it as "the happiest moment of my life." And who could blame him? The 68-year old is now the oldest coach to win a title, and he looked so many years younger as he smiled with his team around him, and the trophy no one thought was possible to win in his hands.
The game started off slowly, but hectically. Neither team was sharp on offense, but both teams came out focused and active on defense. Neither team got many open looks, and since it was the national championship and all, both teams tried to force shots through the opposing team's defense.
Both teams failed at this, hence the low halftime score.
In the second half, Butler started out with a Chase Stigall 3 to extend the lead out to 6. Butler picked up right where they left off.
Unfortunately for them, they immediately went colder than a Midwest winter. Over the next 13 minutes, the Bulldogs would make just one field goal, as Kemba Walker and UConn raced by them thanks to a big game from Alex Oriakhi (11 PTS, 11 REB, 4 BLK) and just enough production from Walker. UConn struggled as well, as Butler never once gave up on defense, but Butler's futility in the second half made history. For the game, their field goal percentage was a frigid 18%.
And you thought Seton Hall couldn't shoot.
I feel bad for Butler. Teams have about 1 game every few years where they literally can't make a single shot. It happened to Butler at the worst possible time. UConn took full advantage and used their length to bother Butler inside all night long. Andrew Smith and Matt Howard hustled throughout, but it went for naught.
The win is Jim Calhoun's third national championship, putting him in some elite company- John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, Adolph Rupp and Bob Knight.
No one saw this coming, not even Calhoun himself. That's what made it the perfect ending to the season- it was unexpected, like so many other things this season. If you would have told me before the season that UConn's men's basketball team would play longer than the women's basketball team, I would have had you admitted.
A long season comes to a close, with UConn getting their one shining moment. Even if the game wasn't a shining example of an instant classic game.