Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Butler Bulldogs

Conference: Horizon

Record: 23-9, 13-5

Rankings: 54 (Kenpom), 34 (RPI), 46 (Sagarin)

Potential Seed: 10/11

Best Players: Matt Howard (16.7 ppg, 7.8rpg, Shelvin Mack (15.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg), Andrew Smith (8.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 63% FG)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: Butler's bad losses probably out-weight their good wins. They lost to Evansville, Youngstown State, and twice to Milwaukee, one of which was a 24-point drubbing. However, they do have neutral court wins over Florida State and Washington State after whiffing on their marquee games in the non-conference, and Milwaukee on the Panther's home court in the Horizon League finals.

Tendencies: The Bulldogs aren't the biggest team, and they certainly aren't the fastest team either, but they are tough, hard-nosed team who won't won't beat themselves. They are not the same team as the one that made the finals last season simply because they are not as tough defensively. We went in depth into Butler's defensive issues earlier in the season, so we will just direct you there.

How They Got There: Butler was one of the most-hyped teams coming into the season, and rightfully so. They returned much of the roster from a team that was national runner up. But the Bulldogs floundered against top-tier competition during their non-conference portion of the season. During Horizon League play, the Bulldogs had an ugly three-game losing streak in which they lost to Milwaukee, Valparaiso and Youngstown State, all by less than two points. But since the loss to Youngstown State, Butler has been rolling, having won nine in a row, including back-to-back victories over the top two teams in the league.

Outlook This is the Bulldogs fifth straight NCAA tournament birth and 10th in 15 years. There is something to be said for their experience with guys like Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack leading the way. They could do well in a favorable bracket against a team that fell into the six or seven spot, but anything more than a second round win would have to be considered a stretch. As they did earlier in the season, this team will struggle against teams with size and athleticism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

20 bucks this is a 2nd weekend team.