Duke vs Butler – Let’s do it again!

BDN Photo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N..J. -  Duke University and Butler University will meet in a rematch of their dramatic NCAA National Championship game on Saturday, December 4 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.  The game will tip-off at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised live on ESPN.

Duke beat Butler in a 61-59 thriller to win its fourth national championship and end Butler's miracle run through the NCAA basketball tournament.

"The IZOD Center and the Meadowlands are synonymous with the best in college basketball because of games like this," said Dennis Robinson, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President and CEO.  "Duke and Butler played a championship game for the ages and I know the great fans of the metropolitan area are as excited as we are that they have agreed to this rematch."

Duke returns two starters and nine letterwinners from last year's team that captured the NCAA Championship as well as ACC Tournament and ACC regular season titles. The Blue Devils, led by Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski, closed the year by winning 18 of their last 19 games to finish 35-5 overall and No. 1 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Preseason first team All-America candidates Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are back after combining to average 35.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game a year ago. The duo along with junior Miles Plumlee (5.2 ppg. & 4.9 rpg.) will be joined by a talented group of underclassman that includes sophomores Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee as well as newcomers Carrick Felix, Josh Hairston, Kyrie Irving and Tyler Thornton.

"We are excited to play Butler next season in the Meadowlands," said Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Given the outstanding game played between Duke and Butler in the 2010 NCAA Championship, there will be added interest in next year's matchup. Surely, Coach Stevens will have his team ready to perform at a high level. We look forward to what will be a significant challenge."

Butler captured the attention of the nation in March with its run to the NCAA National Championship game.  The Bulldogs were the only team to defeat both a No. 1 seed (Syracuse) and a No. 2 seed (Kansas State) in the tournament, and Butler ended the season ranked No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.  Head coach Brad Stevens guided the Bulldogs to a school-record 33-5 campaign, which included a 25-game winning streak - the nation's longest in 2009-10 - and Horizon League regular season and tournament championships.  The Bulldogs return starters Shelvin Mack (14.1 ppg), Matt Howard (11.6 ppg) and Ronald Nored (6.0 ppg).  Leading scorer and rebounder Gordon Hayward declared early for the NBA draft but has not signed with an agent. Butler was the only team in the nation to post an unbeaten conference record (18-0) in 2009-10.

"It's an honor for our program to be invited to play in the IZOD Center in December," said Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens. "Obviously, the challenge will be great, as we have a tremendous amount of respect for Duke."

Duke has a long history at the IZOD Center amassing an 18-1 record including five NCAA East Regional Final victories. Butler has never played at the Meadowlands.