NCAA Championship Stat Summary

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

NO SHINING MOMENTS!

After weeks of build up...and days promoting the Final Four...and then several more hours of hype Sunday and Monday leading to the final game of the season...fans in Houston, across the nation, and across the world were treated to SOME OF THE WORST BASKETBALL ANYBODY HAS EVER SEEN!

Well, that was true in the first half anyway. We had decided before the game to run separate boxscore summaries for the first half and the full game. We had no idea that the first half by itself would end up being so historically unbelievable that it would absolutely deserve a summary all its own.

FIRST HALF

BUTLER 22, CONNECTICUT 19
Shooting Percentage: Butler 22%, Connecticut 29%
Three-Pointers: Butler 5/14, Connecticut 0/5
Free Throws: Butler 5/8, Connecticut 1/1
Rebounds: Butler 18, Connecticut 26
Turnovers: Butler 3, Connecticut 7
Phantom Score: Butler 20, Connecticut 44
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 1.5, total of 61
Notebook:
It was certainly the ugliest first half played in an NCAA championship game for several decades. Well, the worst of the TV era. We only have newsreel footage from before that! With a little more than 8 minutes left in the first half, Butler was 3 of 17 from the field, while Connecticut was 6 of 22. The teams were only 6 of 19 combined after that!

Both teams were nervous, particularly UCONN. Both teams used that nervous energy to hustle on defense. The UCONN defense was virtually impenetrable inside the arc. Butler only made one two-point basket in the first half. The Bulldogs did draw a few fouls though, giving them a +4 edge from the charity stripe. And, Butler hit enough three's to give them a lead. Normally 22 points at the half would be a disaster. It was good enough to put the underdog ahead.

Note that Phantom Score was a slaughter at this stage of the game for UCONN. That's two-point scoring plus rebounding. No surprise there. We said in the preview that Connecticut would own the inside game, and Butler would have to make treys to get a win. Butler needed a 5-0 edge from long range just to lead by a field goal.

The final words before the start of the second half came from CBS analyst Clark Kellogg...assuring everyone that we would see some shot making in the second half. Did we?

FULL GAME

CONNECTICUT 53, BUTLER 41
Shooting Percentage: Butler 19%, Connecticut 35%
Three-Pointers: Butler 9/33, Connecticut 1/11
Free Throws: Butler 8/14, Connecticut 14/16
Rebounds: Butler 38, Connecticut 51
Turnovers: Butler 6, Connecticut 11
Phantom Score: Butler 44, Connecticut 87
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 3, total of 132
Notebook:
No! Butler's shooting got worse. It shouldn't be possible to hit only 19% of your shots in a big game like this. But, UCONN's defense was outstanding...maybe the rims were tight this weekend in Houston (all three games featured lousy shooting)...Butler had been playing over their heads anyway (this is a team that lost to Youngstown State remember)...and the gods of basketball may not be ready to let a mid-major go the distance just yet.

Connecticut ended up going 2 of 23 on three-pointers in their last two games, but won anyway because they did so many other things well. It wasn't pretty basketball. In fact, it was probably the ugliest basketball anyone's ever seen in a Final Four. But, the fundamentals won out, as they eventually do in tournament action.

In our stat preview that ran Monday here at the website, we outlined the categories this way:

Inside Scoring: Connecticut, possibly big
Outside Scoring: Butler, and they'll need a decent edge to win most likely
Free Throws: Probably Connecticut
Rebounds: Probably Connecticut
Turnovers: Probably Butler
Phantom Score: Extremely Likely to be Connecticut

Now that the score is in the books, let's see how those worked out:

Inside Scoring: Connecticut 50-14 (turned out to be VERY big)
Outside Scoring: Butler 27-3, and it still wasn't nearly enough
Free Throws: Connecticut 14-8
Rebounds: Connecticut 51-38
Turnovers: Butler 6-11
Phantom Score: Connecticut in the extreme

Those categories were very predictable for this particular matchup. What wasn't predictable was that Butler would score only three 2-point baskets all night. If they made seven 2-point baskets (which still would have been a lousy 7 of 31 inside the arc---yes, Butler was 3 of 31 inside the arc!), Butler would have covered this spread. Both teams showed a lot of heart on defense. Only one team showed they could make baskets when it mattered most.

In terms of offense, THERE WERE NO SHINING MOMENTS! The Connecticut defense deserves the spotlight and the accolades for bringing Jim Calhoun another championship...and for salvaging the reputation of the Big East in what was otherwise a disastrous Dance. The shining moments we'll take from the tournament this year are the incredible 11-0 WINNING STREAK for UCONN through the Big East tourney and the Big Dance...and Butler's second straight storybook season, literally doing TWICE what had seemed impossible for any mid major to do once.

That wraps up the 2010-2011 college basketball season. It sure doesn't wrap up JIM HURLEY'S rampage on the Vegas line though. We have very busy schedules this week in the NBA and Major League Baseball. Those are highly profitable sports because there are so many games played every day.

If you haven't been involved yet in the NBA, tonight's a great time to get your feet wet:

*There are 13 games on the Tuesday Night schedule.
*Philadelphia at Boston is a marquee matchup that might be a first round playoff preview.
*Oklahoma City at Denver is another one, and that almost definitely will be a first round playoff preview.
*One of NETWORK'S biggest releases of the NBA season will go tonight either in one of those big games or elsewhere on the card.

Hopefully you've learned that it's ideal to jump into baseball early in the season because the Vegas lines are so bad. Teams are still priced based on what everyone remembers from last season. You saw over the first weekend how ridiculous that was. Oddsmakers always take WEEKS to adjust!

MLB highlights on Tuesday:
*Minnesota at the NY Yankees in a playoff rematch
*San Francisco at San Diego in a developing rivalry of surprise teams from 2010.This game will be part of an NL West Parlay we're playing tonight, along with Los Angeles-Colorado. Click here to be a part of a big Tuesday of winning.
*NY Mets at Philadelphia in a traditional rivalry that always gets the juices flowing.

This weekend will bring the first Yankees-Red Sox series of the new season, along with Philadephia-Atlanta in a battle of NL East contenders.

College basketball is in the books. But, the most exciting part of the pro basketball season is upon us...as well as the most profitable part of the Major League season. You can sign up for JIM HURLEY'S top plays right here at the website. Game day releases go up a few hours before the first games start (be sure to check the baseball schedule for afternoon action!). Discounts are offered on monthly or seasonal packages. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you Wednesday as we begin our NOTEBOOK focus on NBA and MLB for the foreseeable future. Be sure you take advantage of a TERRIFIC TUESDAY with the most feared handicapping juggernaut in the business...JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

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