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ncaa tournament

Tonight, We Are All Butler

The only way Butler could have a more storybook, villainous opponent in the NCAA Championship Game would be if they were playing John Calipari and Kentucky. The world might not genuflect in front of a Mike Krzyzewski golden calf, but at least the man does not cheat and then float away, dancing between the raindrops. Coach K and Duke are hate-able in an old-school, comforting way, which, now that we think about it, probably makes them the most storybook villain of all.

Of course, Coach K always does his best to stay humorless and vile: His reaction to the Indianapolis Star's perfectly reasonable cover art (illustrating a story that tried to understand why Krzyzewski is generally unliked) was vintage Coach K: "It was juvenile. And my seven grand kids didn't enjoy looking at it. It is what it is. It's very juvenile. We have great kids who go to school, they graduate. If we're going to be despised or hated by anyone because we go to school and we want to win, you know what? That's your problem. You have a problem." Argh! The fact that he's right just makes us more angry!

Anyway, Butler is the team everyone can get behind tonight, particularly in front of their hometown fans in Indianapolis (though the crowds were generally more evenly split on Saturday night). Tipoff isn't until 9:21 p.m., so you can fully expect to fall asleep to "One Shining Moment," sung this year by Jennifer Hudson. (We are not haters: We kind of like her version!) If it ends with Butler's preteen coach being carried off the court, it will have been a pleasant night.

By the way — our tournament pool: If Duke wins, the winner will be our own Ben Mathis-Lilley, outlasting 475 other competitors. If Butler wins, the champion will be This Is Indiana, a bracket that had Notre Dame as the predicted tourney winner. It has been that sort of year.

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Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images