In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like the Duke Blue Devils, who captured the hearts of basketball fans world-wide by finally stopping the merciless hoops juggernaut known as Butler.
The Bulldog Bullies steamrolled through the Horizon Conference this season, becoming the only team in the country to shutout their entire conference in the regular and post-seasons, while putting a stranglehold on their Top 10 ranking. Then in the big tournament, the elitist (a private enrollment of only 3,800 undergrads) big city school stomped on the Cinderella dreams of Murray State, before crushing the plucky feel-good hopes of the working-class heroes at Kansas State and Michigan State. Those unemployed Lansing auto workers sure could have used a pick-me-up, too.
With 25 straight wins under their belt and two—two!—Academic All-Americans on the roster, the National Championship looked like just another formality for Butler. But they weren't counting on a team of seasoned veterans—no flashy one-and-done mercenaries here!—to match that high-flying athleticism and smothering defense with solid fundamentals and a little something called hard work. The Blue Devils play the game the way everyone likes it played—tough, scrappy, and yes ... smart.
They may not have had the advantage of playing in the cradle of basketball's heartland or with the hometown bias of a "neutral" Final Four court, but they do have something a little better—the thanks of a grateful nation.
You're welcome, America.