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NCAA 2015

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Huskies, Bulldogs give us a final that's bad to the bone

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist

HOUSTON -- Connecticut and Butler: Not since China built a great wall has the world witnessed such high level masonry.

No, Rome wasn't built in a day, but it could have been had the Bulldogs and Huskies played a game then.

Butler: Your turn to miss.

UConn: No, please, after you.

Butler: No, go ahead, I insist.

At one stretch both teams combined for a stunning 1 of 21 shooting from the field in a game that ended with Connecticut winning, 53-41. Butler shot 12 of 64. Skylar Diggins, blindfolded and with a bow and arrow from 700 paces, could shoot better than that.

The greatest quote of the night didn't come from the players or coaches. It came from CBS analyst Greg Anthony, who said after witnessing the 22-19 first half -- the lowest combined score since 1945: "This is the worst half of basketball I've ever seen in a national championship game."

When Anthony was at UNLV the Running Rebels scored 22 points while in REM sleep. The only thing that stopped them from dropping jumpers was Duke and a hot tub.

Go back to 1945 ... do you know what's happened in the world since 1945? There've been wars, the Beatles, polyester pants, Madonna and Charlie Sheen. And through all of that -- all of it! -- there was never a worse half of championship basketball than this.

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This will go down -- and it's not even close -- as the worst game in recent college basketball championship history. Normally, I can't stand when people made such instant declarations but this time it's true. This game sums up the status of the sport now, the effect of the one-and-doners, and how the NBA has allowed the talent drain in college to hurt both sports. Last year Kentucky lost four freshmen to the NBA. If they had come back the Wildcats would have beaten either of these teams by 20.

This is what you get when that perfect storm of selfishness and greed collide. This is what you get. You get this monstrosity. It was bound to happen. After all, the 18 combined losses by Connecticut (9) and Butler (9) were the most entering a championship game in NCAA history.

And while there might never be another like it, fans of college basketball should get used to versions like this until the NBA and college basketball get together and mandate players stay in school for longer than one year.

This isn't to say these kids deserve credit for being on the floor in the first place. They've done something few teams, hell, few people, could accomplish which is get to the top. They're out there playing. Give them a pat on the back for it.

That doesn't mean we had to enjoy it.

Connecticut's 53 points equalled the lowest total by a winning team in a title game since 1949. And please don't tell me Butler's smothering defense was the reason the Huskies struggled to score and the game de-evolved into peach basket mode (or vice versa). Connecticut had numerous open shots, many close to the basket, and missed them. The same is true for Butler.

Some of this was, of course, nerves, but there can be little doubt that, particularly in Butler's case, the fact they are a mid-major finally caught up to them and the Huskies are simply an average team that got on a major hot streak. Butler shot 18 percent from the field and 9 of 33 from three-point range. If Butler had been shooting at Biggie Smalls back in the 1990s, 'ol Biggie would still be alive.

The 19 points by Connecticut were the fewest in a half for a championship game since 1960. Connecticut attempted 12 3-pointers for the game and made one. That's 9.1 percent.

The ugliness of this game went beyond the bad shooting. On the vast majority of possessions neither team could run a basic offense. Passes floated out of bounds. Players slipped on the floor inexplicably. Easy shots close to the basket bricked. Designed plays were stuffed. Fast breaks collapsed.

James Naismith rolled over in his grave, saw what was happening, then rolled back.

"I don't know if anyone necessarily was getting real frustrated," said Butler's Matt Howard about the poor shooting. "I know there was a little bit of frustration on a couple plays defensively where everyone wasn't doing their job. But offensively I felt like people, you know, we kept telling each other, 'Just keep shooting. Some shots are going to go in.' It just wasn't happening."

Both teams shot and shot and shot and many of those shots went everywhere except in the basket.

By the time this was over, the smoke had cleared, and the carnage had been tallied, there was only one thing that could save this one.



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