CBSSports.com National Columnist

If bad is the new good, this game is awesome

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HOUSTON -- Not another word. Not from any of you. Not another word about the disgrace of the 2011 national championship game, because you loved it. And you know you did.

Being honest here. That's not sarcasm or reverse psychology or blatant contrarianism. That's a fact. You loved that game between UConn and Butler, because that's what our society has become. We stopped celebrating pretty things a long time ago. Nowadays, ugly is all the rage.

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Charlie Sheen has a mental breakdown, and 3.4 million of us follow it on Twitter. A bunch of drunk kids make asses of themselves during prime time, and we make it the most-watched show on television.

UConn and Butler play the most dreadful championship game in the history of championship games -- in any sport -- and we relish in it.

UConn won 53-41, a score that's so bad it's good. That score, that game, this entire evening, it was like a Shar-Pei puppy. You know what a Shar-Pei looks like, right? Short, fat, wrinkly ... it's adorable. It's so ugly, it's cute. You fall in love with it out of sheer pity.

That was this game.

UConn won despite shooting 34.5 percent from the floor, because UConn was smoking hot compared to Butler. The Bulldogs shot 18.8 percent, making 12 of 64 shots, and I'll be straight with you: I don't remember them making 12.

I do remember Andrew Smith, who stands 6-foot-11, throwing point-blank layups off the bottom of the rim like a kindergarten kid who had never played the game in his life. I do remember Matt Howard going 1-of-13, missing more bunnies than Elmer Fudd on a bender. He was spinning and drop-stepping into position time and again, uncorking a series of textbook moves with brilliant footwork only to follow it with miss after miss after miss. Matt Howard in the post Monday night was like a hot fudge sundae with a sardine on top.

It was delicious, I tell you. And you enjoyed it -- and you know it. Look, I saw your tweets. You guys were thriving on the ugliness of this game, feeding off it like buzzards feed off road kill.

I read your Tweets and cackled. You didn't expect me to watch the game, did you? By the second television timeout, I had stopped keeping play-by-play of the made shots and started focusing on the misses. The misses were hysterical! UConn All-American Kemba Walker attacked the rim on the Huskies' second possession of the game and threw a shot off the side of the backboard. Charles Okwandu dropped a bounce pass as he stood alone under the basket, denying himself a dunk. A few minutes later the 7-footer rose above the rim for an easy tap-in and missed it. You know how sheepish you feel when you stand over a garbage can, drop a balled-up piece of paper into the can and miss? That was Okwandu.

Afterward, both coaches talked about the quality of defense in the game, which is what you'd expect. What did you think Brad Stevens and Jim Calhoun were going to say? Certainly not the truth, that the two teams had just set back basketball 66 years -- which is the last time a national championship game went into halftime with as few total points as the 41 scored by Butler (22) and UConn (19). And back in 1945, when Oklahoma State played North Carolina, Oklahoma State wasn't even Oklahoma State. It was Oklahoma A&M. And that's a true story.

So is this. UConn took 11 shots from 3-point range and made one. UConn had almost twice as many turnovers (11) as assists (six). UConn received 5-of-19 shooting, no assists and two turnovers from its best player, Walker.

And UConn won by 12.

So how bad was Butler? So bad that it took some of the sting off. Don't get me wrong -- they were hurting after the game, but nothing like they were hurting after last year's title game. Last year they played the sport they loved at a high level and came up one shot short to Duke. That loss hurt, and the Butler locker room was devastated. Almost everyone's eyes were red in that locker room. I was there, and I saw it.

Well, I was there this time around too. And Monday night, I saw it. One guy had red eyes. One. It was Shawn Vanzant, one of three seniors in Butler's nine-man rotation. He had been bawling, you could tell, but he was the only one. The rest of the room looked more ... stunned. Like, what just happened? What was that?

Trust me when I say this: Someday down the road, Butler players will laugh about this game. What else can you do? You look back on a night where your team committed just five turnovers in a game with a 35-second shot clock and you scored only 41 points? That's funny, and some day -- 10 years, 15, the day will come -- Butler's 2011 team will get together and giggle about this.

Meanwhile, the rest of us giggled throughout the game. One guy sent me a tweet that said, "Seriously, when do Ohio State and Kansas play for the championship?" Another wrote, "Song change: No Shining Moments. Another wrote, "If UConn celebrates this with anything but a sheepish grin ..."

OK, that last one was mine. At that point it was 48-35, and Butler needed two late 3s by Shelvin Mack to get into the 40s. This game wasn't bad -- it was terrific. And I was having a good time watching it. So were you.

Remember that before you go shooting off your mouth about how miserable that game was. If it was so miserable, how come we all laughed so much?


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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