In this post I’m going to talk about some of the reasons why I like Butler to advance not only to the Elite 8 but to the Final Four.

I’m not sure if a team can be considered the Cinderella team two years in a row but I like Butler this year as the “Underdog” once again.  This season (including the NCAA tournament games) Butler is only 3-3 against teams that made it into the tournament.  Their losses were against Louisville (Nov. 16th 2010), Duke (Dec. 4th 2010), and Xavier (Dec. 9th 2010) and their wins against Florida State (Dec. 23rd 2010), Old Dominion (March 17th 2011), and Pittsburgh (March 19th 2011).  Some would say this is a weak resume against teams in the tournament, only two of those teams are left in the tournament not including Butler.  I would have to agree with this claim, that’s not very impressive.  However, the Bulldogs are tough and know how to win tough close games.

“This team is tough because Matt Howard is tough” -Butler Guard Ronald Nored (article from espn.com, Matt Howard leads Butler to Sweet 16) link to article:  http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/tournament/2011/columns/story?columnist=oneil_dana&id=6246779

Howard's workhorse mentality and leadership gives Butler the boost they need to win games

I like Butler making its second trip to the Final Four in two years because of the fact they have Matt Howard.  Howard isn’t the most versatile or flashy player in the game but he gets it done with hard work and hustle.  His energy and work ethic motivates his teammates to work hard and to get better.  They respond to his on and off court leadership. He also leads the team in points per game (16.7) and rebounds per game (7.8).  Howard’s hustle is also second to none.  He has one speed, GO (To quote the great Charlie Sheen) and he doesn’t stop til the game is over. You have to admire that from an athlete that is so gifted.  His hustle and toughness though have gotten him to trouble at times.  Last season he was known to get into foul trouble, this year he’s done better and seems to be playing under more control, which is good news for Bulldogs fans.

I also like Butler’s coach Brad Stevens.  Even though he’s a young coach he knows the game exceptionally well and relates to his players on a very personal level.  You can tell his players respect him and want to play for him.  He brings a sense of family to the program which has not only brought him closer to his players but the whole team and faculty closer together.  Another good thing about Stevens’ youth is that he brings a certain energy to the game that most coaches can only attempt to bring.  I also like his composure. His calm and collected attitude mixed with his passion and energy vibes perfectly with his team.

Shelvin Mack needs to continue his hot shooting to help Butler reach the Elite 8

Shelvin Mack, absolutely lit up the the first round.  In order for Butler to be successful the Bulldogs need more big games out of Mack.  Which I think he’ll have.  He was a part of the amazing run Butler had last year and knows what is needed of him to make the same type of run.  I’m not saying he needs to put up another 30 points but he needs to hit big 3’s with the shot clock winding down or hit open looks (I guess you could say that about any shooter).

I like this team a lot. I think their unselfishness on the offensive end will help them get good looks against the Badgers defense.  The Badgers will put up a great fight but Butler wins in a close game.  I also like Butler in the Elite 8, whether they play BYU or Florida. I like the way they match up against both teams and believe they’ll be successful and will see themselves in Houston!

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