The buzzer sounded in Houston, and thousands of University of Connecticut students back on campus in Storrs rushed out of bars, dorms and house parties to celebrate in the streets. There were school cheers, blaring music and fireworks, according to the student newspaper.
In Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game, the UConn Huskies beat the Butler University Bulldogs 53 to 41, earning the school its third national title in 13 years.
The epicenter of the celebration in Storrs was on Fairfield Way, where some students climbed trees to get a better view or crowd-surf through the mass of fans. And there was some raucous celebrating: a flaming couch, a few burning dumpsters, a flipped car, some thrown beer bottles, an unearthed light pole and about a dozen arrests, according to the Associated Press and The Daily Campus student newspaper.
Before the game, Interim President Philip E. Austin and the campus police chief sent students a message and warned them not to party too hard. “Nothing can be gained from harmful, destructive, or criminal actions,” the message read. “Don’t allow one bad decision to sully a Husky victory and derail your college career, especially on a night that is supposed to be fun and exciting for all of us at UConn.”
And although Butler lost the championship game for the second year in a row, many fans celebrated the team even being there.
The Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz called the loss “a crying shame,” but he pointed out in Tuesday’s column that making it to the championship game “doesn’t often happen to basketball's pedigreed bluebloods, but for it to happen to Butler, the small school with the small budget and the humble facilities, was amazing, inspiring and redemptive.”
And Butler did win a lot of free publicity. During last year’s ascent through the tournament and runner-up finish, the university generated more than $600 million worth of publicity, according to a study commissioned by the Butler athletic department.
Media firms Borshoff and Meltwater studied Butler mentions in print, on television or online from March to December last year and decided the publicity was worth $639,273,881.82. (The national championship game that was broadcast on CBS was worth $100 million.)
Last year Butler also saw a 41 percent increase in applications, and a 25 percent increase in men’s basketball season ticket sales. Donations to the athletic department are also at an all-time high.
The athletic department has commissioned another study to look at this year’s results.
And what about the Post's Brainy Bracket? After learning some academic stats about schools in the Final Four, our readers voted for Virginia Commonwealth University to beat Butler in the East, and UConn to beat the University of Kentucky in the West. Academically, readers still picked UConn to take the championship.
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