Friday, March 25, 2011

News On The Horizon 3/25/2011

Third annual All-Chicago College Basketball

Howard leads Butler over Wisconsin
Mid-Majority Chat Block, Episode 719--The Mid-Majority


[Comment From AaronAaron: ]
Is there anyway we can pass a law that says the media has to stop referring to Butler as a cinderella story? I mean, yes, this team did lose five games in the HL (including one to youngstown which I still cannot figure out), but if team brings back three starters from a national runner up finish isn't the cinderella label a bit ridiculous?
Thursday March 24, 2011 4:21 Aaron

In media terms, Butler is entering the same territory as Gonzaga did about a decade ago. There is no known template for a team like this... not even the Gonzaga model. Zag fans had to go through the Cinderella thing for about five years before the consensus was, "okay, this is something completely different and we have to adjust our vocabulary." Unfortunately, the descriptor they settled on for them ended up fueling countless pointless debates. (Hint: it starts with an M.) There is still no vocabulary word for "excelling with relatively meager resources," and maybe Butler will help people come up with one, finally.

[Comment From Tyler D (Indianapolis)Tyler D (Indianapolis): ]
I can explain all 5 of Butler's HL Losses. Howard got in foul trouble, we had injuries, or both. Neither has happened in the NCAA's yet. (and I hope it doesn't tonight either)
Thursday March 24, 2011 4:29 Tyler D (Indianapolis)

I agree, and I'd add inexperience, especially with the earlier losses. The Bulldogs had so many new pieces and 2010 role players fitting in 2011 starring roles that it really affected their depth. I think that's still a weakness, especially here in the deep end of the pool, but if Howard plays smart and keeps his ass off the bench, they will be in this at the end.

[Comment From chanford24chanford24: ]
Seemingly everyone is bracing for a nail-biter between Butler and Wisconsin tonight, but I have this nagging feeling that one team will execute brilliantly and the other will stumble. I have no idea which team will play which role. and I can't figure out whether this makes me excited or terrified. You gotta love March, don'
Thursday March 24, 2011 4:36 chanford24

I agree that it'll be close enough to come down to intangibles at the end. Butler has had so many intangibles going for them in the past week that it seems overwhelmingly unfair. I just hope that one team doesn't stumble (or the refs) and we get a classic finish.

Butler, The Way, and the Curse of Dick Bennett--The Mid-Majority
Bracket Breakdown: 16 Questions for the Sweet 16--Hoopville

(4) Wisconsin vs. (8) Butler, Thursday 9:57

Butler survived one of the craziest endings of an NCAA Tournament games in years to knock off a No. 1 seed from the Big East for the second consecutive season. Last year, that preceded a run to the Final Four. To repeat that feat, the Bulldogs will need more hot shooting.

In the win vs. Pittsburgh, Butler relied on the long ball, draining 12 three-pointers. Shelvin Mack had a dominating performance, hitting 7-of-12 from long range. Wisconsin happens to be one of the worst teams in the country at guarding perimeter shooters. Can Mack and Butler repeat that performance and drain 10 or more three-pointers?

Wisconsin faces a very similar team that plays at a slow pace and focuses on avoiding mistakes rather forcing the issue. Will coach Bo Ryan stick with the Badgers’ tried-and-true formula, or will the Badgers switch it up and attack a foul-prone Butler team to make the Bulldogs uncomfortable?

NCAA Sweet Sixteen Game Analysis – Thursday--Rush The Court

#4 Wisconsin vs. #8 Butler – Southeast Region Semifinals (at New Orleans, LA) – 9:57 pm ET on TBS.

Butler is back in the Sweet Sixteen and while we’re a bit surprised, we really shouldn’t be. The Bulldogs are just that, bulldogs. Butler bullied big bad Pittsburgh around last week and emerged victorious, despite the bizarre ending. They’ll have to be tough as nails against a Wisconsin team that survived a 2-16 shooting performance from Jordan Taylor to get by Kansas State and into the regional semifinals. The matchups in this game are fascinating, a purist’s dream. Both teams are comfortable at a slow pace and you can bet the farm that’s how this game will be played. Each team is patient on offense, protects the ball well and can make free throws in big spots (Wisconsin is #1 in the nation at 82.3%). To defeat these clubs, an opponent must defend well in the half court for the full 40 minutes, often until late in the shot clock. Both teams have holes defensively, Wisconsin against the three and Butler inside the arc, while the Badgers have an edge offensively. You’d think that would heavily favor Wisconsin. While that may be correct, Butler has the players to put the brakes on Bo Ryan’s efficient offensive unit. Butler has won 11 straight games dating back to a mystifying loss at Youngstown State on February 3. While their defense has improved, their efficiency numbers remain in the same ballpark. The real key has been slowing the pace and forcing turnovers, therefore maximizing their opportunities to score in low possession games. Brad Stevens’ bunch will be comfortable playing at Wisconsin’s pace but they can’t expect to turn Wisconsin over like they’ve been doing to other opponents recently. The Badgers are the best ball protection team in the land, turning the ball over on only 13.3% of their possessions. To beat Wisconsin you have to shut down their three-point attack (UW gets 36% of their points from beyond the arc) and prevent Taylor from setting up the offense. That’s very difficult to do against a point guard who doesn’t turn the ball over but it can be done. If there was one coach to come up with that plan and one player to execute it, Stevens and Ronald Nored are those guys. Nored is Butler’s defensive specialist and will be the key to Butler’s success in this game while Stevens is a master strategist. While he won’t turn Taylor over often, Nored can harass him and force the ball out of his hands. When Matt Howard hedges, Andrew Smith must protect the basket and prevent Jon Leuer from getting good position. When a Wisconsin shot goes up, look for Butler to send lots of guys, maybe all five, to the defensive glass to limit Wisconsin’s second chance opportunities. Offensively, Shelvin Mack will again be the key as he was against Pittsburgh. While Wisconsin is the slight favorite, Butler will advance if Mack can keep up his recent level of play. We think he will.

The RTC Certified Pick: Butler.

NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.24.11--Rush The Court


* Growing up in the shadow of Gene Keady and Bob Knight has not turned Butler head coach Brad Stevens into the same type of loose cannon as the two legendary coaches. Instead, Stevens is known for his calm, steady, and studious approach that he takes to coaching the game of basketball.

RTC Live: Regional Semifinals – Thursday--Rush The Court


John Stevens:
Here we go with game two, everyone. Ready to tip off with Butler vs Wisconsin.

John Stevens:
With 15:35 left in the first half in the matter of Butler vs Wisconsin, the Badgers have an early 5-3 lead. That's about the score you expect at the the first media time out between these two, though Butler wouldn't exactly mind a slight pace increase. Jon Leuer hit his first three attempt which usually bodes well for the rest of his night.

John Stevens:
And just that fast, we're at the under-12. Butler's up 11-10 and -- hold onto your hats, here -- Wisconsin has turned the ball over TWICE ALREADY. That'd be like saying Jared Sullinger picked up two quick fouls! OK, don't hate me OSU fans. Just a little ribbing. Butler's attack is mostly guard-oriented with Vanzant and Mack taking the majority of the shots so far.
Thursday March 24, 2011 10:32 John Stevens

John Stevens:
But whoever's going to guard Jordan Taylor is going to have to tighten up the ol' jockstrap and get ready for a battle, because Taylor looks like he wants to take over already and will do so if given the green light by his coach. He's so good at that stutter move that so often draws fouls from opponents.

John Stevens:
This thing is just flying by, but I think that's just an illusion since there are so few possessions compared to the last game. 25-18 Bulldogs with 6:05 to go. Wisconsin is in an interesting spot, here, because while they are glad to run every shot clock down to zero before shooting, I don't think Butler minds that at all. The Butler defense is the story, though, having already forced five turnovers out of the Badgers. In a game like this, a seven-point lead is really like a 12-point lead, but just because Wisconsin likes a slower pace doesn't mean they CAN'T score quickly if they want/need. Jordan Taylor was quick to point that out in a interview this week.

John Stevens:
With 3:27 left in the half, Butler still leads by 7, 29-22. Shot selection and defense -- anyone surprised -- are the story, and the Bulldogs have the advantage so far. I can't get over the number of turnovers they've coaxed out of UW (7!) to this point, because that's unheard of for them. By contrast, Butler has taken excellent care of the ball, having committed only two gaffes so far, and they've improved theur shot selection to get their percentage up to 50%, having taken the three only when it's open. UW has shot 19 shots, but ten of them have been three attempts. They've hit four threes and four twos.
Thursday March 24, 2011 10:54 John Stevens

John Stevens:
There's the half. Butler has the advantage at the break, 33-24. Something to watch in the second half: Matt Howard and Tim Jarmusz have a little something going. Howard crushed him on a screen at the end of the half and they talked a little afterward. But you've got to hand it to the Bulldogs. That was a textbook first half for them. they played tough defense, talked like crazy on that end, pressured the ball extremely well, especially when Taylor had it. They drew a few bad shots and an uncharacteristic number of turnovers out of the Badgers and you KNOW Bo Ryan's going to go nuts on that in the locker room discussion.
Thursday March 24, 2011 11:06 John Stevens

John Stevens:
The ball pressure on Jordan Taylor has really affected him, though, and it looks like Brad Stevens is going with a "cut the head, boy will follow" philosophy. Taylor has 6 points, but on 2-7 shooting and he hasn't hit a three. He's only dished ONE assist, as well. Most glaring stat column, though...Butler has seven steals. Wisconsin...ZERO.
Thursday March 24, 2011 11:08 John Stevens
John Stevens:
Oh God. Andrew Smith is down and he is HURTING, and it looked like his knee just buckled as he came down.
Thursday March 24, 2011 11:26 John Stevens
John Stevens:
The first media time out coems at a good time for Wisconsin, because Butler has continued their ball pressure of Jordan Taylor and it is REALLY starting to show on his face and in his play. The Bulldogs lead 38-24 with 15:36 left. Andrew Smith went down in a heap on the defensive side while fighting for a rebound, and he already wears a brace on the left knee. It looked like he was favoring the knee as he went off, but trainers are doing a HUGE re-tape job on his left ANKLE, so we'll see if he's going to try to go. The Butler defense has got the Badgers shooting a glacial 8-31 (25.8%). Stevens has coached a masterful game.

John Stevens:
The under-12 arrives with a Butler crowd that is making some SERIOUS noise here, and it is an EIGHTEEN POINT LEAD for the Bulldogs, 45-27. It's a cliche, but it is one because it's true...DEFENSE wins championships, or in this case, Sweet 16 games. Jordan Taylor has six points. Jon Leuer has three. A total NINE from those guys is awful, even by Wisconsin's slow-paced standards. That ability that the Badgers have to score quickly that Jordan Taylor mentioned and Bo Ryan backed him up on? Might want to unleash that....

John Stevens:
With 7:44 left, Butler still has a very studly 17-point margin, 49-32 over the Badgers. Jordan Taylor finally hit a three, but he took another one the next time down and missed badly. What also surprises me is that whatever Wisconsin fans are here are SILENT, and have offered NO RESPONSE to their team getting spanked here.

John Stevens:
What an efficient game from Matt Howard so far. 13 points on 4-6 shooting, nine boards. Compact, efficient, and leading vocally on both ends of the floor. He's been one of the loudest talkers on the defensive end for Butler.
Thursday March 24, 2011 11:57 John Stevens
Friday March 25, 2011

John Stevens:
I don't think this is the true under-4 MTO, but I'll update you here. Wisconsin has closed the gap a bit, but Butler still leads, 52-40. Butler's ball pressure on Taylor has slacked a bit and he's taken advantage, but time is running out on the Badgers. The press row is still abuzz with the Duke win, mostly out of amazement of the margin and the second half clinic that was evidently put on by the Wildcats.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:08 John Stevens

John Stevens:
There was even a small response from the Wisconsin red-clad fans when it got down to 12, but it was short lived.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:09 John Stevens

John Stevens:
This is official under-4, but no change. Butler still has possession. Strong work by Howard there. Shot that end-of-shot clock three, and got his OWN rebound. Tells you where Wisconsin's heads are at...
Friday March 25, 2011 12:12 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Down to nine....2:15 remaining. Butler's softened here in the last few minutes. Brad Stevens stares blankly at his team as they come off the court for the short time out.

John Stevens:
UH OH....SUDDENLY we have a game! A block at one end by Nankivil leads to Taylor finding himself open at the other end for a three. FOUR POINT GAME, and the Gus Johnson law has shown itself to be true once again. 53-49.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:18 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Another time out now, and Taylor just bombed ANOTHER three but Butler scored in between, so it's 56-52 Bulldogs when play starts again. Wisconsin's full-court defense shook Butler pretty badly and that helped fuel the comeback, but MAN, Shelvin Mack DRILLED a clutch fade-away 12 footer to put Butler up by seven before the Taylor three.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:22 John Stevens

John Stevens:
The Butler crowd has started to celebrate in earnest, now, and even though Brad Stevens might not be hitting Bourbon Street tonight, these Blue/Gray clad fans will be taking it over in FORCE. The subs are in for both sides to finish the last few seconds, and IT'S OVER.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:28 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Leaders? Legends? No, sir. Only Ohio State remains from the Big Ten, as the Bulldogs take this one 61-54. I'm headed back to the media room. Bear with me, because the wireless signal is pretty spotty from there.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:29 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Game time for Butler vs Florida on Saturday is 3:30 PM CENTRAL time, so obviously 4:30 PM ET.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:38 John Stevens

John Stevens:
This isn't a connection issue. I'm still here. Neither team has come out yet.
Friday March 25, 2011 12:47 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Still here. Can't imagine what the delay is. Actually, here comes Wisconsin...
Friday March 25, 2011 12:55 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Big compliment from Jordan Taylor: "Butler is scrappy. They're relentless. They're tough kids and that's what makes them winners."
Friday March 25, 2011 1:00 John Stevens

John Stevens:
The Wisconsin kids are totally crestfallen. Obviously have been crying. The look on Jon Leuer's face is heartbreaking.
Friday March 25, 2011 1:01 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Bo Ryan is a little truculent, folks. He's taking on reporters a little, he's getting these little digs in about whether the askers of questions have seen his team play this year.
Friday March 25, 2011 1:05 John Stevens

John Stevens:
WOW, Bo Ryan throws Leuer under the bus a little: "Leuer had SO many open threes. I mean, he hit his first one and then, whew...maybe they needed to guard him a little more closely? But he had it in the post, too, and he couldn't score there either."
Friday March 25, 2011 1:07 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Howard demures as far as rating his own level of play, asked of him by a writer. Brad Stevens just smiles.
Friday March 25, 2011 1:14 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Howard: [To shut down players like Leuer, Taylor] " takes a team awareness. It wasn't something one or two people did. Them starting out 3-11 was something we did collectively."
Friday March 25, 2011 1:16 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Stevens: "Matt Howard sets a tone of unselfishness in everything he does, both on the court and in the community. He's all real. Nothing is fake."
Friday March 25, 2011 1:21 John Stevens

John Stevens:
Stevens said that when Mike Miller hit the shot in the NCAA to beat butler 11 years ago, he was driving to Buffalo NY to watch a friend play against Indiana. He didn't know that coaching was necessarily on his radar.

Ranking the Sweet 16 games--Ballin' is a Habit

5. No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Butler: The make up of these two teams is incredibly similar. Two talented, scoring point guards in Jordan Taylor and Shelvin Mack. Two versatile, senior power forwards in Jon Leuer and Matt Howard. Slow paced games, efficient offenses, not-quite-so-efficient defenses.

Butler no longer the belle of the ball, the Bulldogs belong--Ballin' is a Habit
March Madness: Southeast and West Regional Semifinals--The Big Lead

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL- #4 Wisconsin vs. #8 Butler (TBS, 9:57)

It’s hard to go against Butler. First, they have Matt Howard, who reminds of that guy that you play in pickup basketball at the gym who wears the knee brace, sweats all over you, tugs at you just enough to annoy you but not enough to cause you to call fouls, and beats you up with post moves. Shelvin Mack, coming off his monster game that was the key to Butler getting a lead, goes against Jordan Taylor, looking for a better performance coming off the Kansas State win.

Then there’s Brad Stevens, who uses Ken Pomeroy’s rankings as part of his scouting to break down what opponents do. I’m just not sure if the cold, hard numbers at Pomeroy’s site can quantify how to stop the awesomeness of Mike Bruesewitz’ hair.

The Pick: Wisconsin, because at this point, Butler has already ruined my bracket. May as well pick against them and continue their run.

Butler Pre-Game: B5Q Grills Mid-Major Madness--Bucky's 5th Quarter
Mid-Major Morning Mashups: So Long Jimmer, So Long Aztecs, Hello Butler Edition--Mid-Major Madness
NCAA Tournament Day Five Open Thread - Picking the Sweet Sixteen Winners--South Orange Juice

#8 Butler vs. #4 Wisconsin - 9:57PM, TBS
Southeast Region - New Orleans
The Favorite: Wisconsin (-4.5)

This is my toughest call of the night. I can't put a finger on this game, just can't do it. Remember that disclaimer where I told you these picks were for entertainment purposes only? Yep. This game is why. I think Wisconsin will win, but the Bulldogs were on this stage last year, they're got the "nobody respects us after a national title appearance" card and Brad Stevens is a boss. And since I've rolled the dice with three Vegas underdogs already, let's go for the clean sweep. Baseball season is a week away, can I bat a thousand? It'd actually be batting one. But that doesn't sound cool. Enjoy the games, stop in and laugh at my picks and do me a favor. Don't gamble your mortgage on these picks. Don't even put your Pirate Bucks on them. Of course, if I win, it's, "told ya so" time.

Prediction: Butler (+4.5)

Brad Stevens Is Going To Get A Ton Of Money From Someone--Crimson And Cream Machine
Florida Makes Sure Overtime is not Jimmertime while Butler Stomps into the Elite Eight--Searching for Billy Edelin
Overachieving season ends as Badgers fall to Butler in Sweet 16--Bucky's 5th Quarter
You've been served: Butler knocks out Wisconsin--Bucky's 5th Quarter
2011 NCAA Tournament: Butler One Step Away From Another Final Four With 61-54 Win Over Wisconsin--SB Nation Indiana
Butler Relies on Defense to Stymie Wisconsin--New York Times
A year later, Butler one up on Duke--College Basketball Nation Blog
Butler's Matt Howard has perfected his endgame--The Indy Star
Butler beats Wisconson 61-54, advances to Elite Eight--The Indy Star
Today's party for Butler mascot to double as rally--The Indy Star
Notebook: Stevens not afraid to juggle Butler lineup--The Indy Star
Butler lets big lead get away but still stops Wisconsin--The Indy Star
Kravitz: It's not magic, just the best team winning--The Indy Star
An elite program? Elite Eight (again)--Indy Star Butler Insider
Butler wins, goes to second straight Elite Eight--Victory Firelight
FOLLOW THE GAME LIVE: Bulldogs vs. Badgers--Butler Collegian
Sizing up the competition--Butler Collegian
Butler advances to Elite 8 after 61-54 win against Wisconsin--Butler Collegian
PHOTO GALLERY | Dawgs crush Badgers in Sweet 16 upset--Butler Collegian
Bulldogs Win, Move To Elite

Cleveland State's star Norris Cole looks to NBA after stellar men's basketball season--Cleveland Plain Dealer

Women's Basketball to Host Two Summer

Women's Basketball Holds End Of The Year

McCallum Named to Freshmen All-America

VIDEO: A Look Live Scouting Report of

Last year's Jr. All-Stars still make grade--The Indy Star

Butler Back to Elite Eight After 61-54 Victory Over Wisconsin--Horizon League Network
Tournament Tracker: March 25--Horizon League Network
Butler Shoots for Return Engagement to Final Four--Horizon League Network

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