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It's Butler Mania

INDIANAPOLIS -- Yoo-hoo, over here. I'm down here in Indy for the Final Four, and I'm stunned. There are WAY more Butler fans here than anything else.

(Cue the rimshot).

(And, yes, I'll be here all week. Try the veal).

Anyway ... a few observations from today's open practices:

* Speaking of the Butler fans, they turned out in force. To the tune of, oh, about 30,000 for Butler's hour-long shootaround.

* Lucas Oil Stadium's setup for this is about as good as it gets for stadium hoops. The configuration is surprisingly intimate, to the extend that a 63,000-seat basketball venue can be intimate.

* West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is quite possibly the most dour man on the face of the Earth. Even when he's being gracious -- and he was today -- he looks as if he'd rip your head off just for looking at him wrong.

* Coolest thing of the day: Blue II, Butler's bulldog mascot. The mutt's so well-trained he actually posed for all the cameras and minicams chirring and whirring around him.

Also he held still while a certain sportswriter scratched his head.

* Second coolest thing of the day: The 75 yard-long queues outside the Luke's gates a full two hours before practices began.

* Third coolest thing of the day: Did I mention a certain sportswriter got to scratch Blue's head?

Ben Smith's blog.