After the game is played there are no odds. There's a stark binary result of a Win and a Loss. 66 times that harsh reality has been played out during the NCAA Tournament and just two teams remain tonight. Before the NCAA Tournament log5 predictions gave Butler a 0.02% chance of making the finals. That's 1/500. So it's not improbable, but it's still darn unlikely and it took a little bit of luck along the way.
For instance, right above Butler on that log5 chart to start the tournament was Old Dominion. The Bulldogs eliminated the Monarchs on Matt Howard's put back with seconds to go in the game. Way up the chart was Pittsburgh, but we all know what happened against the Panthers.
The trend continued against Wisconsin and Florida, all the way to the Final Four. There the Bulldogs met up with someone even more unlikely, VCU. Shaka Smart's boys were given a 0.03% chance of even making the Final Four, but they did.
That's because for six nights in March and April (or seven if the champion was going to be VCU) all that matters is the score at the end. There are no polls, no popularity contests, no rankings, no numbers. There are two teams on a court. Two teams that have a chance to advance. It always ends in a loss for someone.
But Butler has escape that fate. The Bulldogs have danced right up to the door of defeat and refused to go inside. Some people call it luck, but it certainly doesn't seem that way. Howard wasn't waiting for the put back because of luck. Shelvin Mack didn't score 10 straight points against VCU because of luck. Nope. It was intense planning. Smart, future, possession by possession thinking by the 33-year-old Brad Stevens, who is arguably the best coach in college basketball today.
Preparation does a lot to mitigate luck. When you know what you have to do a lot of the randomness is taken out of the equation. That's Stevens' plan. That's why everyone has a role. There's a "star." Howard was that guy for a while and then last season Gordon Hayward exploded. Howard ceded his role to the future first round NBA draft pick and didn't say a peep. It wasn't that Howard was any worse than the player that was named the Horizon League's Preseason Player of the Year. It was that he understood that it wasn't his time.
Well his time has come again, and the 6'8 forward from Connersville, Ind. has made it count. The time will come when it's Andrew Smith's or Khyle Marshall's turn, but for now those two youngsters are committed to one thing - winning.
It turns out that come those six nights in March and April that's all that really matters. The simple result of a win or a loss.