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Cinderella Teams The Belles Of Final Four Ball


Thanks for being with us, Mike.


MIKE PESCA: Or, ooh ah.

SIMON: Or ooh ah. Look semifinal game that starts at I believe 6 pm eastern time this evening. The 11 seed Virginia Commonwealth plays I can't believe I'm calling them the favored Butler Bulldogs. But there you go. Is this the battle of the Cinderellas?

PESCA: But the way these two teams have been playing in the tournament - not necessarily all year - but in the tournament, just shows that they're great teams.

SIMON: Yeah.

PESCA: And in this game, you know, if you look at the one huge stat in the game it's the three-pointers. Butler has shot more and made more three-pointers than anyone in this tournament. Almost more three-pointers than anyone would think would be possible in the NCAA tournament. But Butler's very good at defending the three-pointer. So it could come all down to that space 20 feet from the basket.

SIMON: Now, let me ask you. Butler's been there before, much as they're an underdog, and I read today, of course, they're going to be playing in the I guess it's called Reliance Stadium.

PESCA: Yes. Right next to the Astrodome.

SIMON: Ordinarily a football field there in Houston, which holds 76,000 plus. Now, VCU, the Rams, play in the 7,500 seat Siegel Center, which I believe is the only NCAA stadium named after Robert Siegel. Could they be rattled by the difference in the crowd?

PESCA: I don't think they'll be rattled, only because they're never rattled. And anyone who doesn't have a specific rooting interest, I think, has to be a little bit drawn to the Bulldogs.

SIMON: UConn, Kentucky, what's the difference there? I mean, VCU and Butler have these, you know, young, motivate-ier(ph) coaches. UConn and Kentucky have a couple of guys who've been around the block.

PESCA: But the toughest guy, the guy with the hardest mindset in maybe all of college sports, is the Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. And they have a great player in Kemba Walker, who'll be the best player on the floor. So it's five, well- coached, really athletic, tough Kentucky guys against Kemba and his supporting cast. So it could come down to the supporting cast. And they're a great team.

SIMON: Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.