Duke's Legend Faces Hoosier Legacy In Championship

The national championship in Division One men's college basketball is set. The Duke Blue Devils, one of the greatest programs in basketball history, will play the Bulldogs of Butler University. It's a school that's not well-known despite being a major player in Indiana's basketball heritage. Host Liane Hansen talks with NPR's Mike Pesca.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

It is set: David versus Goliath. The Duke Blue Devils, one of the greatest programs in college basketball history, will play the Bulldogs of Butler University, not as well-known for its prowess on the court. On the phone is NPR's Mike Pesca with the details. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: Hi.

HANSEN: Okay, Duke's back, their eighth time under this coach. How did they do it?

PESCA: Mike Krzyzewski is a great coach, and he's great because he does it different ways. Now, people think about Duke, what does that mean? Oh, they're athletic, they slip into offensive lanes. Actually, this team is just tall, plain tall. But I should say they're not just tall. They're tough, and what they do is they grab offensive rebounds, and then they could shoot the heck out of the ball, and that combination has served them well during the tournament.

So even if they miss on their first shot, they get a second and third shot, and those guards, also tall guards, are very good, and they've been making teams pay. They beat West Virginia very soundly, and they are the favorites. Theyre about a six or seven - supposed to win by six or seven points.

HANSEN: Yeah, describe Butler's trip to the ball.

PESCA: You know, Butler is a team that has been described as a Cinderella, and they, obviously, if you watched any of this tournament, they have so much of their program that has to do with the movie "Hoosiers." Like, they play in the arena where the film was set, and they're from Indiana, and the guy who the real movie - the real guy that the movie "Hoosiers" was based on played for Butler.

But Butler, this real-life Butler team, very, very good defense. They also have good plays. Among them is Gordon Hayward. He will probably be drafted higher than anyone on Duke, maybe anyone else on the Final Four when it comes to the NBA. So they're a really good team.

HANSEN: Yeah. So if Butler wins, it'll be Hoosier heaven for sure, but will it be one for the history books?

PESCA: I guess it always is Hoosier heaven when it comes to basketball. Yeah, that's a good question because right now, we're caught up in the fact that no one maybe has heard, or many people hadn't heard of Butler before this season started.

But the people who knew basketball did put them in the pre-season top 10, and in terms of an upset, other teams who were supposed to lose by more - Villanova against Georgetown in 1985 and North Carolina State against Houston - those were bigger upsets in terms of how much they were supposed to lose by, also how indomitable the favorites in those games were.

So Butler would be a great win, and it would be a great statement for all the small schools like Butler. I don't know if it would be the biggest upset ever.

HANSEN: So March Madness comes to an end in April, and next year, 93 teams. Who knows how long the madness will last? NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks a lot, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome.

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