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Tale of Butler Painful for Trojan Hoops Fans

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Please excuse my frankness, but I don't want Butler to beat Duke on Monday night.

Plain and simply, I don't like America's favorite Cinderella team. I hope that glass slipper breaks in half and the clock strikes midnight before she even realizes it.

While most of you consider Duke the villain, I can't share in those sentiments. In the end, I can't stand Butler in the slightest.

Personally, I have nothing against the school. It's a nice, small, Midwestern liberal arts college with an undergraduate enrollment of just 4,000. Their home court is Hinkle Fieldhouse, which hosted the Milan Miracle in 1954 - the inspiration for the movie Hoosiers. And their head coach Brad Stevens looks like he should be in my introductory history course.

But even with all that said, the idea of Butler is so frustrating. The fact that such a small school from the Horizon League, seeded just fifth, could make its way to the NCAA championship game is testament to the idea that anything can happen in March.

You can be a lower seed and stumble your way to the Final Four. Just ask this year's current Butler squad or George Mason from a few years back.

It's not like the top seeds have all the fun. Look at Kansas or even Syracuse. Not every number one seed ends up dancing at the end of March.

That's why I can't help but feel better about this past year's USC squad. They had an opportunity to position themselves into the field of 65 (or is it 96 yet?) and make a run toward the Sweet, Sixteen, Elite Eight, or even Final Four.

But they didn't get that chance. It was taken from them.

Because of events out of their control (Mike Garrett's negligence), the Trojans were barred from competing in the NCAA Tournament or even the Pac-10 Tournament this season. And now, they're sitting at home.

Watching Butler take down the nets makes me wonder if that could have been USC. No, I'm not saying that under the direction of Kevin O'Neill USC would have been a lock to crack the Final Four. For all matters, a birth in the field of 65 wasn't even a guarantee. But this season, we missed seeing our Trojans have that opportunity "to go for it."

They never had the chance to see if they could have been a Butler, a George Mason, or even a Gonzaga, because Garrett sent them packing, O.J. Mayo said "screw you," and Rodney Guillory asked to show him the money. Selfishness and greed on the part of others made USC's opportunity to make a run at a title impossible.

In the end, only one team takes home a championship. That's the way it is in all sports. But a big part of being a fan is following your team and hoping they are the ones celebrating in the end - even if the odds are stacked against them. That's what allows Pittsburgh Pirate fans to tune in every year for Opening Day even with every national publication predicts them to finish in last place. It's that childhood naivety that makes sports fans think this could be "the year."

The youthful optimism was taken away from Trojan hoops fans this year. The chance for a title run was absent, and that's what makes watching Butler so frustrating. They had that opportunity and took advantage of it; making most of us wonder whether that could have been USC in the Bulldogs' place. Most likely, it wouldn't have worked out that way, but nonetheless, it's painful to watch Stevens guide his youthful team to the title game against the heavily favorite Duke Blue Devils.

In turn, hopefully next season, the Trojans will have the opportunity to partake in the madness and potentially make a run at a title - unless of course further sanctions are in store at the end of the month.