Brad Stevens: Lucky or good?
Butler coach has been fortunate in Final Four run, and he knows it
A little after 9 ET on the evening of Feb. 3, Butler coach Brad Stevens walked to midcourt and shook hands with Youngstown State coach Jerry Slocum. Stevens' 14-9 Bulldogs had just lost to Slocum's 8-14 Penguins by the score of 62-60. The team that had captivated much of the nation by reaching the 2010 national championship game had blown a 10-point lead in the last six minutes and lost to the Horizon League's last-place team.
It was Butler's third consecutive defeat, coming on the heels of overtime losses to Milwaukee and Valparaiso. And as Stevens sat in a sparsely attended media room at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown, Ohio, there was absolutely no reason to think in less than 60 days Butler would be wearing home whites in a national semifinal. Quite the opposite, it seemed probable the Bulldogs wouldn't even make the field of 68.
We know how this story ends, of course, which is why I'm writing about Butler in late March. Since that night in Youngstown, the Bulldogs have gone 13-0. On Saturday, Stevens' team will take the court at Reliant Stadium in Houston and play Virginia Commonwealth. If it wins, Butler will make its second consecutive appearance in the national championship game, a feat that can only be termed staggering for a Horizon League university with a total enrollment of fewer than 5,000 students.
You may have noticed that some of the Bulldogs' wins in the NCAA tournament have been rather close, dramatic and perhaps even incredible. Such outcomes have raised the question of whether Stevens is as good as his now-glowing reputation or he's just been on the fortunate side of fate. Let's briefly recap the highlights:
To read how John Gasaway's look at how luck has factored in to the Bulldogs' Final Four run, you must be an ESPN Insider.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- No. 3 Arizona holds off Kansas State in Maui
- Pinkston clutch to lift Villanova by Michigan
- Maryland upends No. 13 ISU in tourney final
- Tarkanian home after hospital stay, son says
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Insider NCAA Tournament Bracket Bundle
Insider has all of the NCAA tournament angles covered.
Access the ultimate tournament game prediction tool to dominate your pool. Bracket Predictor
Joe Lunardi and his team of bracketologists break down all 68 teams. Tourney Tips
Our deadly-accurate formula projects which Cinderellas will topple favorites. Giant Killers
Basketball Prospectus author John Gasaway analyzes the 2011 dance.
Players To Watch
Chad Ford scouts NBA prospects in each region.