The looks on their faces seemed to be more of relief than elation. Pegged as one of two overwhelming favorites in October (North Carolina being the other), and the prohibitive favorite entering the NCAA tournament, a season without a national title would have been a disappointment for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The question of what can be learned from a prior regular season meeting can be a tricky one, especially when there's been so much time in between meetings. No. 1 seed Kentucky (37-2) and No. 2 seed Kansas (32-6) will meet on Monday night for the national title, a rematch of their November 15th meeting at the Champions Classic in New York.
(1) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville
(2) Ohio State vs. (2) Kansas
The end of the college basketball season is here, for better or worse, and the national title game matches a pair of teams few expected to get to this point on Selection Sunday much less at any point during the regular season. The Butler Bulldogs are back where they saw their season end a year ago, and if Gordon Hayward's half-court shot were a few centimeters to the left we're talking about a possible repeat.
In the first game of the night in Houston, Butler was able to withstand an early barrage of VCU three pointers to take a six-point lead into the intermission. After an even start the Bulldogs allowed themselves to be drawn into the Rams' hectic style of play, breaking the pressure for three pointers instead of attacking the rim.
How they got here
Kentucky (East Region champions)
W 59-57 over (13) Princeton
W 71-63 over (5) West Virginia
W 62-60 over (1) Ohio State
W 76-69 over (2) North Carolina
Connecticut (West Region champions)
W 81-52 over (14) Bucknell
W 69-58 over (6) Cincinnati
W 74-67 over (2) San Diego State
W 65-63 over (5) Arizona