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NCAA Tournament Open Thread: The National Championship Game

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Tonight, the season ends, with perhaps the most unexpected championship game matchup in the NCAA Tournament's modern era. The Southeast champion Butler Bulldogs return to the final for the second consecutive season, an unexpected repeat visitor. Since dropping three in a row to fall to 14-9 overall and 6-5 in the Horizon League, the Bulldogs have won 14 in a row. Their opponent tonight, the West champ Connecticut Huskies, are nearly as scorching. Jim Calhoun's team has won 10 games in a row, all in elimination situations. In fact, with their early Maui triumph taken into account, UConn is 13-0 in tournament games this season.

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National Championship Game
at Houston, TX

SE No. 8 Butler Bulldogs vs. W No.3 Connecticut Huskies
CBS, 9:23 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Steve Kerr

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My Pick: KenPom.com projects a 69-65 UConn win over 63 possessions. While I agree with the general margin and pace his model produces, I'm picking the opposite result. If the Bulldogs' can keep up their physicality on defense, they may be able to rattle the Huskies. The other key is, naturally, to keep the ball out of Kemba Walker's hands, particularly late. As I've said before, Brad Stevens' team just seems to be on a mission. I don't think they'll be denied for a second straight time.

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