They started the season among the top teams in the country. They beat college basketball powers like Ohio State University and Xavier University in December. And they have won 47,000 games in a row (more like 25). So, it shouldn't have surprised anyone when the Butler University Bulldogs beat Syracuse University, Kansas State University, and Michigan State University—all teams that were ranked in the top five at some point this season—en route to college basketball's coveted national championship.
But for all the expectations and recognition, it was still—at first glance—surprising to see the tiny Indianapolis school make it all the way to the title game. Admit it. And realizing the magnitude of the situation, Butler is soaking up the attention. Butler's admissions office received 300 new applications the day following the Bulldogs' victory against Kansas State and the admissions website has crashed twice in the last week, the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports.
Inside the athletics department, the basketball team's success was bound to reap the benefits of half a century of support. Butler, which enrolls about 3,500 undergraduates, has focused resources on athletics as far back as World War II, the New York Times reports.
"I think what the little privates figured out in that era was that 15 scholarships and a few pairs of Converse [sneakers] and you could be on the front page," Butler's Associate Athletics Director Tom Crowley tells the Times.
The biggest challenge for the Bulldogs comes tonight: a 9:21 p.m. date with college basketball's most recognizable name—big, bad Duke. But don't expect Butler to feel out of place or undersized. The Bulldogs have been right there with the likes of Duke all year, and they get a chance to win one for little guys everywhere.
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