The Dagger - NCAAB

With the exception of a small pocket in the Northeast, the nation will likely be rooting for the ultimate underdog come Monday night.

Butler wore its white home uniforms and was favored for the first time in this NCAA tournament on Saturday night against VCU in the national semifinals in Houston. And after dispatching of the Rams, 70-62, the Bulldogs are back in the title game for the second year in a row.

Back to the David role.

The opponent this time around is another one of college basketball's premier power programs, as UConn's torrid postseason run behind star guard Kemba Walker claimed yet another victim. The Huskies pushed Kentucky aside in Saturday's nightcap, 56-55.

The marquee match-up within the match-up will, of course, involves Walker, who had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a gritty effort against the Wildcats. He'll line up across from Butler junior Shelvin Mack, who again was masterful on Saturday. He had only one major lull, coming early in the second half, but scored 24 points off of 8-of-11 shooting, including a 5-of-6 showing from the free throw line.

UConn's run is more unexpected than many might now admit, as the Huskies appeared almost out of gas when they lost four of five games to close out the regular season. However, the steam built first with a five-wins-in-five-days jaunt through the Big East tournament, and they haven't slowed.

Unfortunately, Jim Calhoun's team will automatically assume the role of the villain here, as Butler's story is essentially a real-life Disney movie of sorts.

When Butler lost sophomore star Gordon Hayward to the NBA draft after last season's unexpected journey to the national title game, it was assumed that the Bulldogs would remain strong, but likely not reach the same height as a team.

It looked even more likely on Feb. 3, when an ugly, shocking loss at Horizon League cellar -dweller Youngstown State left Brad Stevens' team at 14-9 and visibly floundering.

But since then, they completely turned the corner. They've won 14 straight, and are doing it in the NCAA tournament again with the defensive-minded toughness that got them to the season's final game in 2010.

Now, they want a different outcome.

On Saturday night, Butler looked the part of a team that's been this deep in the season and knows how to handle the spotlight.

Can they do it again on Monday night? It's fitting that one of the strangest NCAA tournaments in history ends with such an unlikely match-up, but we'll see how much of the nation tunes in to find out.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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