Butler: Continuum--The Mid-Majority
Boeheim familiar with Butler's best--Salt Lake Tribune
Sweet Sixteen Game Analysis: Thursday Night--Rush The Court
Sweet 16 Breakdown: The West Region--Ballin' is a Habit
Thursday 7:07 pm: (1) Syracuse vs. (5) Butler
On paper, this looks like a terrible matchup for the Bulldogs. A lot of people wrote off Butler early in the season after watching them struggle against much of their premiere competition. The knock? The Bulldogs can't handle the size and athleticism of the best teams in the country.
Butler is probably the smallest team left in the tournament. Gordon Hayward, their three man, is the tallest player that sees minutes. Their center -- Matt Howard -- is 6'8", a land warrior, and as foul prone as any player in the country. Their power forward is the same height as the Syracuse back court.
As you might imagine, that's a problem.
Syracuse is big. Even if Arinze Onuaku's quad isn't ready to go on Thursday, they are big (UPDATE: Jim Boeheim has announced that Onuaku will not, in fact, be playing tomorrow). Rick Jackson was one of the most underrated players in the Big East this past season. A lefty, Jackson is a good rebounder and a solid post scorer. He blocks his share of shots, and shouldn't have an issue matching up with Howard. If Onuaku is ready to go, Butler is going to be in some trouble. How are they going to defend and rebound against that much size?
The paint isn't the only place Syracuse is big.
Wes Johnson and Kris Joseph are both 6'7" and athletic with long arms. Andy Rautins, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche are all big, physical guards that love to get in the passing lanes on the perimeter. Add in the fact that Butler doesn't have a lot of great shooter, and you can see how this team might struggle against a zone with that much length that can force turnovers.
Should I even mention that Johnson played his best game of the season on Sunday? He went for 31 points and 14 boards, hit a season high four threes, and was as aggressive offensively as we have seen him.
Having said all of that, Butler is a tough team that plays hard, smart basketball. But eventually, athletic talent will outweigh effort.
Snarky Sweet 16 preview: Xs and Oranges and more Dogs and Cats--College Hoops Journal
Why is Syracuse's zone so good? Practice--The Indy Star
Collier has 2nd wave of success with Butler--The Indy Star
Butler has opportunity to gain national prominence--The Indy Star
NCAA blog 12: Butler needs 3s by Hayward--Indy Star Butler Insider
Bulldogs Make Fourth NCAA Sweet 16 Appearance--ButlerSports.com
UWGB women's basketball notebook: Divilbiss rediscovers the joy of coaching--Green Bay Press Gazette
NCAA women's basketball: UWGB loses to Iowa State 60-56--Green Bay Press Gazette
Laur, McClain Earn All-State Recognition--uwmpanthers.com
Wheeler coach Jones first excelled as a player in Valparaiso--The NWI Times
Vacant women's coaching job attracts many applicants--The Jambar
Horizon League Network previews Butler vs. Syracuse--The Horizon League
Syracuse Beatable--Horizon League Network