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Sunday, January 20, 2013
Saturday's regular-season showcase

By Dick Vitale

I have heard some people say that the college basketball regular season doesn't mean that much. They claim that it is all about the postseason.

Oh really?

Go look at what happened on Saturday. Check out the passion and emotion, hard work and effort at so many great games.

I was fortunate enough to be at a one of the best, between Gonzaga and Butler. In the end, Butler got a break with a last-second steal, which led to Roosevelt Jones' dramatic game-winning shot. It extended Butler's win streak to 13 games.

My friends, both Butler and Gonzaga will be heard from at the big dance. They play so hard, and their coaches find a way to win. I dont want to hear the term mid-major associated with either of them -- both coaches make over $1 million and fly on private planes. They have put kids in the pros. Some people still use the mid-major term, just because they are not at BCS football schools.

Mark Few and Brad Stevens are two of the best coaches in America. Gonzaga has been a consistent winner, capturing the WCC title 11 of the last 12 years. On top of that, the Bulldogs have won at least one game in four straight NCAA tournaments. Butler made consecutive championship game appearances, an incredible accomplishment for any program.

Hinkle Fieldhouse lived up to my expectations and beyond. It was like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field of college hoops, with so much tradition. The fans were incredible and the game was outstanding.

The Butler-Gonzaga game epitomized what the sport is all about. The action and excitement of Saturday was memorable, even beyond Indianapolis.

Syracuse won at No. 1 Louisville on a late dunk by Michael Carter-Williams in yet another great game that went to the wire. Michigan State hung on to defeat Ohio State. Every game in the Big Ten is a real battle; go ask Wisconsin, a winner at Indiana earlier in the week. The Badgers could not win at Iowa.

Wichita State beat Creighton is a showdown of the best of the best from the Missouri Valley. That is a very underrated league.

Cincinnati handed Marquette its first loss in Big East play, getting to the winner's circle in overtime. Sean Kilpatrick, who made the winning basket on a drive to the hoop, had a career-high 36 points.

Perhaps the best performance on Saturday was down in Gainesville, Florida. Billy Donovan got his 400th victory as Gator coach has his team dominated on both ends of the court. It was blowout city, a 31-point win over Missouri.

It was another great weekend of college hoops, baby! You cannot tell those kids, the coaches or the fans that the regular season has little meaning. They certainly did not play like it.