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Gators avoid Cinderella comparison with Butler

March 26, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Butler's Brad Stevens likes being the young coach from the small school whose second straight run deep into the NCAA tournament is capturing the imagination of the basketball-loving public.

More important to him, though, is how his players see it.

"The cool part is - our guys - it's not above their imagination," Stevens said of upsetting one higher seed after another. "It's just what they think we have to do next."

After knocking off a pair of major conference powers in their last two tournament games - top-seeded Pittsburgh and fourth-seeded Wisconsin - Butler (26-9) will try to send second-seed Florida (29-7) of the Southeastern Conference home in Saturday's Southeast regional final.

If Butler succeeds, the Bulldogs will be back in the Final Four for a second-straight season.

Gators coach Billy Donovan made it clear he's the last person who needs to be convinced of what a threat the feisty Bulldogs are to the big-money, big-school programs that entered the tournament as higher seeds and with higher expectations.

Donovan's reasons have to do with more than just what Butler has done.

"You're starting to see the teams that maybe are non-BCS teams moving on and advancing in this tournament," Donovan said, referring to George Mason's Final Four appearance in 2006 and Butler's national title game appearance last year.

One subplot is Florida's history of ending Butler's season. No current players were part of that, but most remember when the Gators ousted Butler in the 2007 regional semifinals and most have been told about the Gators' dramatic first-round 69-68 overtime win over Butler in 2000.

 
 
 

 

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