Butler Vs Michigan St.
Butler and Michigan State take the floor for tip-off at 3:07 pm PST (that’s right, I’m using Pacific Time, you East Coasters can do the math this time). It’s the classic Not-quite-Cinderella versus Not-quite-Cinderella match-up basketball fans dream about. In one corner, you’ve got the heavyweights Michigan State, in their eighth final four appearance. In the other corner, you’ve got the Butler Bulldogs, a scrappy young team on a 20-game win streak that everyone should have seen coming, but nobody did.
When the game begins, Butler will jump out to a slight lead by putting increasing pressure on Michigan State’s inexperienced backcourt and forcing early turnovers. Michigan State will overcome Butler’s stifling D to tie the score and go into halftime with a lead. In the locker room, head coach Tom Izzo will give a fiery, passionate speech about how he did not come here to lose. Camera’s attempting to film the speech will be literally tossed from the Michigan State quarters along with chairs, stools, Gatorade and reserve players Izzo has labeled “expendable.”
In the second half the two teams will battle to a furious finish. With 3.2 second remaining on the clock, Butler is down by two points, 62-61. On the inbound pass, guard Shelvin Mack arcs up a shot from just inside the three-point line that rims out, but somehow hits the official directly below the basket on the head and goes in. Time had expired before the shot went into the basket, but not before it bounced off the referee’s head. The referees head to the sideline to discuss and check the rulebook.
In a stunning decision, the shot is counted and is given a value of two-and-a-half points, giving Butler the victory 63.5-62 and somehow pushing a 1 and ½ point line – something previously thought to be impossible – but staying just below the 126 over/under. Gamblers around the world are simultaneously shocked and horrified. Half of the audience in Lucas Oil Stadium gets up to call their bookie. The other half throws trash onto the court.
It will be determined the next day that there is no two-and-a-half point shot and that referees Curtis Shaw, John Higgins and Les Jones had placed competing parlay bets on the spread.
Duke Vs West Virginia
The second game will be just as riveting, with Duke, the only one-seed in the tournament to make it to the Final Four, against West Virginia, the only team from the vaunted Big East Conference to get this far.
The Blue Devils will come out on a tare, with head coach Mike Kryzewski taking out his frustrations of not winning a National Championship in nine years on West Virginia. At the end of the first half Duke has a seemingly insurmountable lead, up 56-23.
At halftime, Gus Johnson says, “West Virginia is getting beat like a runaway slave, and I don’t mean like a black runaway slave, I’m talking about a Jewish runaway slave from Egypt. They’re getting beat like Biblical times – canes, whips, stones, the Egyptians did NOT play.” When color commentator Jay Bilas tries to stop Gus, he only digs his whole deeper, finishing by screaming into his headset, “The Mountaineers are getting beaten like the Jews beat Christ, crown of thorns, crucifix and everything, this is like watching The Passion of the Christ out here! Jesus, someone save these boys!”
Gus Johnson is immediately removed from the game and with Jim Nantz nowhere to be found, Bill Refferty and Jay Bilas finish the game, doing nothing but color commentary. This sequence is incredibly popular in focus groups.
As the second half begins, West Virginia goes on an all-out assault. Somehow, Tom Izzo was let into their locker room to finish the verbal tirade he unleashed on his own team to the Mountaineers. This also works, as West Virginia leads the most impressive comeback in the history of the Final Four – and Gus Johnson is not there.
The teams play to an astonishing 12 overtimes, going well into the morning. Most everyone in the auditorium is asleep and people on the East Coast are getting into work only to find out that the game is still on. The teams are now playing three-on-three, because everyone else has fouled out of the game, when a disgruntled fan who refused to go to sleep storms the court and takes out all the remaining players with a metallic wand he fashioned out of the end of the scorers table.
With the score tied and no remaining players eligible to enter the game, the referees have no choice but to call a tie game. Because there can be only one National Championship game by NCAA regulations, all three teams – Butler, Duke and West Virginia – must square off in a triple threat match. A brand new court will be created and each team will have two 20-minute halves to score as many points on either of their opponents’ baskets as possible. Gus Johnson is immediately reinstated.