Wednesday, March 23, 2011

News On The Horizon 3/23/2011

Butler's calm demeanor leads to last-second
Wild weekend down, another coming up at
The Week That Was: NCAA Tournament Edition--Rush The Court

What We’re Looking Forward To
Will the Butler magic continue? The Bulldogs provided the most excitement of the weekend, winning their first game in buzzer-beating fashion and then surviving one of the most bizarre finishes in college basketball history to topple #1 Pitt. Could Butler mount another run to the Final Four? We think…Yes. Wisconsin (now ranked #4 in KenPom’s ratings) should certainly be the Bulldogs’ toughest challenge in New Orleans, but the Badgers are definitely beatable. Wisconsin doesn’t defend the three particularly well, allowing opponents to make 37.3% of their shots from downtown. And while Butler isn’t an elite shooting team at 36.2%, the Bulldogs are plenty capable of getting hot from downtown (see their 12 treys against Pitt). To upset Wisconsin, Butler will have to harass Jordan Taylor into his second straight woeful shooting night, and force someone aside from Jon Leuer to beat them. One other thing working in Butler’s favor is that Gus Johnson will be in the booth for the New Orleans regional. Remember: Johnson was on hand for Butler’s wins over Syracuse and Kansas State last year.

Morning Five: 03.23.11 Edition--Rush The Court

The overall number one seed that is Ohio State? Keep ‘em. The Cinderella stories of VCU and Butler? All yours. Jimmer? No thanks. The other quarters of the bracket each have their allure, but Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post says if you want star power, you head to Anaheim and check out the West Region (San Diego State, Duke, Arizona, Connecticut).

Optimist/Pessimist: Thursday’s Sweet 16 Edition--Rush The Court


Optimist: Don’t be fooled by our poor defensive efficiency on the season. This has been a completely different team defensively since the stunning loss to Youngstown. Ronald Nored may be a liability offensively, but there’s absolutely no reason why he can’t lock down Jordan Taylor. He limited Ashton Gibbs to just seven shots on Saturday and made both Andy Rautins and Jacob Pullen’s lives miserable last March. The same applies to Fredette or Walker in the next round. Most of our significant minutes go to players with Final Four experience and Shelvin Mack is finding his stride at an opportune time after his numbers dropped across the board this season. Just ask Pittsburgh. Most importantly, though, I firmly believe we have the best coach in this region. The way Stevens had Vanzant deny the ball screen in that final basket on Saturday was genius, especially since Pitt surely expected Butler to take advantage of a switch with Gary McGhee.

Pessimist: What happens when the second most efficient offense in the country (Wisconsin) matches up against the #74 defense in the country (Butler)? Butler loses. Nored is fantastic defensively against purely offensive players, but Wisconsin’s win over Kansas State showed they have enough of a supporting cast to survive even on an off-night from Taylor. As long as he continues to be his efficient self and run the show effectively, Nored isn’t a factor. Howard isn’t a matchup problem for them, either. It’s not like either Jon Leuer or Keaton Nankivil is uncomfortable operating around the perimeter. The NCAA Tournament is all about matchups and this one stinks for my Bulldogs. The magic has to end sometime.


Optimist: I truly believe we’re the favorite to win this region. The emergence of complimentary guys like Mike Bruesewitz, Josh Gasser and Tim Jarmusz in that Kansas State game should give them a ton of confidence heading to New Orleans. Frankly, Jordan Taylor isn’t shooting 2 for 16 again, either. Nobody else in this region has a 1-2 punch like Taylor and Leuer. Our record lack of turnovers speaks for itself. And that ability to knock down 82% from the line late in games is infinitely valuable.

Pessimist: Butler frightens me. I actually think Matt Howard and Andrew Smith have the ability to defend Leuer and Nankivil if they stay out of foul trouble. They create mismatches against bruising, wide-bodied big men that are only comfortable in the post and can’t defend ball screens for Taylor around the perimeter. Take our first matchup with Ohio State as an example with Jared Sullinger. As much as guys like Jarmusz and Gasser stepped up against K-State, does anyone really trust them? It’s going to be Jordan Taylor and more Jordan Taylor on those possessions that come down to the end of the shot clock. He can only wear that Superman cape so many times.

NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.23.11--Rush The Court


* Butler struggled throughout much of the early portion of the season; however, things began to change for the Bulldogs around February 1. Head coach Brad Stevens attributes this change to the elevation in the play of guard Shelvin Mack.
Butler has won several games down the stretch this season, including its first two tournament games. This clutch success can be attributed to the even-keel demeanor that the Bulldogs exhibit throughout the late stages of a game.

Vegas Odds to Win the National Title--Rush The Court
Which remaining underdog is biggest threat to make Final Four?

2. Butler (No. 8 seed, Southeast Region)

Outlook: Sequels are rarely better than the original, but Hoosiers, Part II has lived up to its predecessor so far this March. Butler has followed up last year's historic run to the national title game with dramatic victories over Old Dominion and Pittsburgh, advancing to another Sweet 16 behind the play of stars Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. While the departure of versatile wings Avery Jukes, Willie Veasley and Gordon Hayward has robbed Butler of some of last year's defensive prowess, guard Ronald Nored is still one of the elite defenders in college basketball. How he fares against Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor and whether Howard can stay out of foul trouble should determine whether Butler gets a shot at either Florida or BYU in the regional title game. There's no dominant team in this region, and would you count Butler out after last year's run or Saturday's last-second escape against Pittsburgh?

Sweet 16 reset: How they rank heading into regionals--CBS Sports

12. Butler: Let's not go overreacting to Butler's two wins. Brad Stevens himself admitted his team isn't better than Old Dominion or Pittsburgh -- it just had the ball last in both of those games, giving them the opportunity to eke out clutch W's. Matt Howard's awkward body language lives to see another game. We're all better for it; he's Kramer on a basketball court.

Haiku previews for the Sweet 16--Eye On College Basketball

Wisconsin vs. Butler: Game in the 50s / Gonzaga, Butler is not / I love you, J-Tay

Power rankings: Sweet 16 teams--ESPN
Butler presents opportunity for Badgers to change postseason reputation--Bucky's 5th Quarter
Tournament Preview--Basketball Prospectus
Substance over style for Bulldogs, Badgers--The Post-Tribune
Butler's 3rd Sweet Sixteen is making believers--The Indy Star
Brad Stevens reiterates commitment to coaching at Butler--The Indy Star
A look at Wisconsin by the numbers--Victory Firelight
Bulldogs will encounter similar foe in Wisconsin Badgers tomorrow--Butler Collegian
Bookstore reaping the benefits of tournament success--Butler Collegian
Bulldogs and Badgers at same level as of Wednesday practice--Butler Collegian
Mack on Sweet 16 game: ‘It’s up to me to make sure we’re all on the same page’--Butler Collegian
Bulldogs Meet Wisconsin In Sweet

Titans Lauded for Academic

Rambler basketball moves on--Loyola Phoenix
Bonded--Loyola Phoenix

Baylor taking business approach to NCAA

First, the Lady Bears have to face Green Bay, which has a 25-game winning streak after its 65-56 victory over Michigan State. That prevented a rematch with the Spartans, who in their only previous games against Baylor lost by 22 points in the 2005 national championship game and by 26 in Waco earlier this season.

Baylor, a Final Four team last season, has never played Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"I know they've only lost one basketball game and I know that they've beaten some good teams," Mulkey said. "I have not watched much film on them this year, but we will. ... When you've only lost one game, that gets your attention."

There is plenty for Green Bay to prep for, too.

Brittney Griner, Baylor's 6-foot-8 sophomore standout, is coming off a 30-point, eight-block performance against West Virginia (24-10) even after she sat on the bench with two fouls for the final 9:20 of the first half.

UW-Green Bay's Heather Golden leads from the bench--Green Bay Press Gazette
NCAA women's basketball: UW-Green Bay in Sweet 16 after beating Michigan State--Green Bay Press Gazette
he Phoenix Continues Dancin': Green Bay Moves On to Sweet
Postseason Props: Ritchie Inspired by Dad's
reen Bay to Return Wednesday at 12:30

Onalaska junior Nick Arenz commits to playing for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2012--Green Bay Press Gazette
UWGB men's basketball: Onalaska's Arenz becomes Wardle's first Wisconsin recruit--Green Bay Press Gazette
Semenas, Snyder to transfer from UWGB--UWGB Basketball
Wardle lands first in-state commitment at UWGB--UWGB Basketball

Green Bay Headed to Sweet 16 After 65-56 Victory Over No. 4 Michigan State--Horizon League Network

Tournament Tracker: March 23--Horizon League Network
Bulldogs Seek Elite Eight Admittance Thursday Night--Horizon League Network

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