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Monday, March 29, 2010

Butler edges Wildcats, advances to Final Four

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Every day they walk into practice, they also walk onto a movie set — the one where they filmed the story about the little team that gets its big chance and lives out the unthinkable dream.

That's the story of "Hoosiers."

That's also the story of Butler — the team that's reminding everyone that big schools with big money don't have a monopoly on everything in big-time sports.

Yes, the boys from Butler did it — getting 22 points from Gordon Hayward to defeat Kansas State 63-56 in the West Regional final Saturday and advance to the Final Four.

Next, the Bulldogs take their 24-game winning streak to downtown Indy. Though only 8 km from the Butler campus, it's hard to think of many programs that have taken a longer, more unlikely road to get this close to a championship.

"It'd be just as cool if we moved it to Hinkle," Butler coach Brad Stevens said of his team's fieldhouse. "I'd be all for that."

No such luck. Still, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (32-4) are writing their own underdog story, even if they can't really be called underdogs anymore.

Shelvin Mack scored 16 and Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley keyed an in-your-face defensive effort on K-State guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente to help Butler become the first school from a true, mid-major conference to make the Final Four since George Mason in 2006 — a trip that also ended in Indianapolis.

"This is probably the coolest thing that's ever happened in my life," Nored said.

WVU tops mighty UK

SYRACUSE , N.Y. (AP) Country road, take me home.

Or better yet, Indianapolis.

It's almost heaven, West Virginia. Da'Sean Butler and the Mountaineers are off to the Final Four for the first time since 1959.

Joe Mazzulla scored a career-high 17 points in his first start this season and West Virginia handled a Kentucky team stocked with future NBA players almost from the opening tip for a 73-66 win in the East Regional final on Saturday night.



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