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2011 NCAA Championship Game Predictions: Rick Pitino Picks Butler Over UConn

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whose team played both Butler and Connecticut this season, is picking Butler to win the NCAA Championship Game today. The reason? The Huskies, Pitino says, are tired.

"My observation is that Connecticut's a tired team right now," he said. "I think Kemba [Walker] is worn out. I think Butler is the winner because of it."

Connecticut had an exhausting run through the Big East Tournament - which the Huskies won - before heading to March Madness, and Walker and Jeremy Lamb played almost the entire game against Kentucky. By contrast, Butler rested stars Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard for relatively large portions of the Bulldogs' last game against VCU.

Another factor that gives Butler an edge, according to Pitino, is three-point shooting:

"I thought Kentucky had wide-open shots in the first half and didn't make any," Pitino said. "You've got to stop the 3-point line against Butler to win the game. Butler has a distinct edge at the 3-point line. One team is a very good 3-point shooting team and one is not."

UConn will need to watch out for Mack, Howard and Shawn Vanzant from behind the three-point line.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.