In the humble estimation of this writer , the real story here is the coaches of these four teams — the two upstarts, Butler and VCU, who will tip off in the early game Saturday, and the storied programs of UConn and Kentucky, with nine NCAA titles between them.
Butler — returning to the final four for the second year in a row — are coached by Brad Stevens, who looks like he could play point guard for the Hickory High Hoosiers. But while Stevens appears to be nothing more than the suburban Indiana hoops head he is, he seems to have an unshakeable belief in his system and an even-keeled focus on the job at hand, which caused one sportswriter this week to wonder if maybe Stevens was “Bill Belichick in a suit.” Stevens now ranks as the youngest coach in history to reach back-to-back Final Fours. Wondering who the last person to do it at such a young age was? The legendary Bob Knight. (Coincidentally, Knight won his first title on his second trip to the finals…) These Bulldogs are led by Matt Howard, who has benefited greatly by a switch in position from 5 to 4, to the tune of a team-leading 16.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg. This is an undersized team that relies mainly on perimeter shooting and free throws, so look for talented point guard Shelvin Mack to set up outside while seizing on mismatches and feeding Howard under the basket.