In an upset-filled opening day of NCAA tournament action, the most popular sleeper pick of all turned out to be a major bust.
When Derrick Caracter scored at the halftime buzzer to give 12th-seeded UTEP a six-point halftime lead on fifth-seeded Butler, it looked as though the Miners were going to reward those who picked them to spring the upset. Instead the Bulldogs roared back behind a brilliant second half from guard Shelvin Mack, outscoring UTEP 22-4 to start the second half en route to a 77-59 victory.
If Butler started the season as a major disappointment after dropping four non-conference games before Christmas, the Bulldogs have redeemed themselves with a brilliant January, February and March.
They've won 21 straight to put themselves in position to make the Sweet 16 for the second time in four years and the fourth time since 2002 if they can defeat 13th-seeded Murray State on Saturday afternoon.
Butler advanced to that game riding the hot hand of Mack, who buried a career-high 7 three-pointers and scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half. The Bulldogs also clamped down on UTEP's two stars, Caracter and guard Randy Culpepper, limiting them to a combined 16 second-half points.