Tag Archive: ESPN


Bucket List: pt. 1


Good morning everyone! It’s been over 2 years since I last posted, but I’m ready to get back into doing what I Love and that’s writing about college basketball. Yes, I realize March Madness is right around the corner and I’ve literally missed writing about the entire regular season. But, I can’t think of a better time to pick back up!

In case any of you are wondering it’s been a wild 2 years. Last January (2013) I left for Marine Corps bootcamp, followed by combat training, and eventually landed in California.  (due to security and force preservation reasons I shouldn’t post my whereabouts here, if you really care it’s not that hard to find out lol) Since joining I’ve been pretty busy with my job, but I want to write while the opportunities are here! Before that I was working two jobs and sleeping literally 2-4 hours a day. I didn’t have much time to write….hahaha?

This first post isn’t going to jump right in with my thoughts on the upcoming conference tournaments and who I think will win and why like I usually write about. Honestly, I haven’t had the opportunity to watch that many games up to this point.  So, I thought to get the wheels rolling again I’d start a sporadic, yet personal series of stadiums (campuses) I really want to visit and watch a game. Heck, I’ll even throw in the opponent of the home team I’d like to watch, just for kicks.

1. Allen Fieldhouse (The Phog)

This stadium is at the top of my list.  Not only does this stadium hold many interesting and historic values and stories but the atmosphere created by the fans, especially the student section, is remarkable.  If you’ve read any of my past posts you’ll know I’m a Kansas Jayhawks fan. No, I’m not from Kansas, but I became a fan at a young age because I liked their mascot. I was kid, what did I have to go off of?

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The Phog was opened in 1955 and Kansas’ already rich history has grown substantially in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. ESPN has rated The Phog as the loudest college basketball stadium in college basketball. Who wouldn’t want to witness that? The “Home-court” advantage the Kansas Jayhawks feed off of is hard to ignore.  Kansas is the second most winning-est team in college basketball, behind Kentucky.  Kansas also holds some of the longest home winning streaks in the nation.

Phog Allen Fieldhouse is dedicated to Dr. Forrest C. “Phog” Allen.  Allen coached the Jayhawks in the early 1900’s for 39 years.  Allen also played for the Jayhawks under James Naismith, aka the creator of basketball and the only KU head coach with a losing record, Ironic? Being the history nerd that I am I would love to visit this arena and learn everything I could about it and the tradition that continues to collect outstanding high school recruits such as Andrew Wiggins, and posts impressive season after impressive season.

If I had the choice of who I could watch Kansas play in Phog Allen I’d definitely have to go with the Texas Longhorns. Kansas has a few rivalries to talk about. Such as, Kansas St. and Missouri (If you still call Missouri a rivalry after leaving the Big 12).  The Texas vs. Kansas games are always a must watch for me.  Some of the best games I’ve ever watched were between these two teams and I can’t think of any other team I’d want to watch play against the Jayhawks in Phog Allen.  There would be almost too much rich history in one building to handle, but it would be an experience of a lifetime!

I’m keeping this post short and sweet. Don’t want to get too lengthy and lose potential followers! Plus, this is simply a bucket list of places I want to see college basketball played.  I enjoy interaction with my readers so I’d really like to hear from all of you! Leave a comment on where you’d like to see a game and who the home team would be playing if you could choose any team.  Thanks for reading and look for new posts to come soon!


I’m moving out of my beloved confort conference zone this post.  I’m going to put out there who I think is going to win the Big East and how I think each team will finish. Now, I’m warning you. It’s a little different than what the ESPN experts have to say. But, nobody really knows exactly how things are going to play out. I mean who really predicted that Uconn would win 10 straight games, all in tournament play, and walk away with the NCAA Tournament Title? I know I didn’t. After watching a game of Uconn’s in December last year I put up a post stating I wouldn’t be surprised if Uconn won it all. Don’t believe me? Check my older/beginning posts. 

Also, these predictions aren’t going to be as in depth as my Big Ten predications. That would take forever given the boat load of teams in the Big East.  Also, I’m doing this in hopes of hearing some comments and sparking a little more conversation on my blog. I want to hear what others think….that’s part of why I write!  Without further ado here’s my Big East predictions!

  1. Syracuse Orangemen
  2. Cincinnati Bearcats
  3. Connecticut Huskies (Uconn)
  4. Louisville Cardinals
  5. Marquette Golden Eagles
  6. Pittsburgh Panthers
  7. Georgetown Hoyas
  8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  9. West Virginia Mountaineers
  10. St. John’s Red Storm
  11. Villanova Wildcats
  12. Depaul Blue Demons
  13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
  14. Seton Hall Pirates
  15. South Florida Bulls
  16. Providence Friars

This is how I feel the Big East will play out in the 2011-2012 regular season.  If you have any questions at all as to why I put a team where they’re at leave a comment and I’ll answer for you!

Thanks for reading everybody!


Over 300 Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, UCLA, and Purdue football and basketball players have notified the NCAA  that they want some of the pie generated from NCAA DI, school, and conference TV contract revenue.  These student athletes signed a petition informing the NCAA they would appreciate it if the NCAA, “realizes its mission to educate and protect us with integrity” (ESPN, Petition seeks slice of college TV money pg. 1).  Basically the players are asking through this petition that the NCAA forces schools to cover ALL expenses for ALL Division I athletes not covered by scholarships or grants.  Student-Athletes are faced with added expenses to meet needs of academic requirements. Such as tuition, student fees, room and board, campus parking fees, calculators, and other materials such as scan disks.

Ithaca College and the players’ association conducted a research in 2010 that found student-athletes on “full scholarships” actually end up paying $2,951 annually.  That’s terrible! <—–yes that’s sarcasm.  I’m pretty open and will let you know as a former DIII athlete (Beloit College) I owe well over $50k.  Given it costs a little over $42k a year at Beloit.  Yeah, I was given a lot of help as you can tell.  But, to only have to pay approximately $3,000 a year would have been awesome!

The players have issued a solution to cover this, so called, debt.  The NCAA will put aside an undisclosed amount into an “Educational Lock Box”.  What this means is that both the NCAA and college presidents would set aside money gained in TV revenue each year.  When student-athletes would exhaust their NCAA eligibility but not earn their degree yet they would receive an allotment to cover all educational costs.  Or, if they use up their eligibility and graduate they’d simply be handed that allotment of money with no strings attached.

It’s important to keep in mind that college athletes are amateurs, not professionals.  Which shouldn’t be hard to do with the Miami Hurricanes and Ohio State Buckeye scandals being investigated and all over the news recently.  Amateurism is the main argument against the players solution to the NCAA.  BUT! The Pac-12 just made 12 year agreements with both FOX and ESPN.  These TV deals will bring the Pac-12 $3 billion in revenue.  Also, remember that without these student-athletes there would be no college (specifically DI) football and basketball to watch!

Should NCAA Student Athletes be paid?

The NCAA president Mark Emmert is recommending that the colleges themselves will produce an extra $2,000 to cover scholarship shortfall.  This solution would benefit ALL DI student-athletes as opposed to the “Educational Lock Box” solution which would only cover and pay DI football and basketball players.  This solution was combated by Purdue’s Athletic Director Morgan Burke. Burke stated, “depending upon the number of student-athletes, could approximate $1 million a year.” Burke also made it clear that less than two dozen of the 300 DI schools turned an annual profit last year.  He, as well as many others, question how each school would come up to fund this.  Keep in mind that this fund would be supported and funded by the schools, not the NCAA.  Also, each school has the option to opt in or out of this solution.

LSU’s chancellor Micheal Martin said, “I think institutions like us could clearly afford it, I’m not sure all can.” This would not only give certain conferences, but also certain schools, a distinct advantage when it comes to recruiting top notch recruits, believes Boise State’s president Robert Kustra.

Personally, I think it would be okay to pay these student-athletes to cover additional costs of education.  Obviously, if the school is handing out checks they need to monitor somehow and in someway to see if the student-athletes are using those checks for the intended purpose.  However, I’d like DI athletes to put themselves in the shoes of a DIII athlete.  DIII athletes don’t get to fly all over America to play.  We don’t get to miss classes with excuses of “playing” a game for the school. We don’t even receive any athletic scholarship money at all.  We only receive grants, academic scholarships, and need based assistance. To be  honest once again I’m not sure what these players are complaining about.  They have a good deal but I understand that should receive some additional benefits from all the additional revenue they produce for their schools!

I’d be glad to hear what all of you think and your opinions on whether or not student-athletes should be paid!

 


Should NCAA Student Athletes be paid?

The new hot topic among all college athletics is whether or not college athletes should be paid.  The first that I’ve heard to address this topic is Penn State’s assistant football coach Jay Paterno and the Big Ten Conference.  I’ve heard rumors that the Big Ten will be giving their athletes $5,000 for their participation.  I have no idea whether or not this is true. From my current research there’s no actual evidence that this is true.

Assistant Penn State Football coach Jay Paterno

Jay Paterno has stated that the NCAA should not withhold athletes from making money for their participation.  Jay Bilas of ESPN even went as far as to say, “I believe barriers should be removed that limit an athlete from receiving fair compensation for his or her image and likeness”.

I find that to be a very strange statement from such a renowned, and some would argue; well respected, author from ESPN.  However, we’re all permitted to have and share our opinions.  That’s what makes America better than Canada (That and Hockey. Get it. It’s a joke about Boston beating Vancouver for the Stanley Cup).  My first thoughts on this subject however leave me to feel that paying college athletes is wrong and dumb.  Isn’t that what professional athletics is for?

ESPN writer Jay Bilas

After much debate with myself on this subject I’ve decided that I disagree and agree that college athletes should be paid/compensated/or what have you depending on the level they play at.

Division I: No. Most of these athletes have some portion of their tuition, room and board, and other school fees paid for, if not all of it.  I realize that these athletes bring in a lot of money for the schools and institutions they play for. However, they’re getting paid in a sense. Their education is being paid for and they get to travel a bunch for games for free! Not to mention they get compensated for trips home for multiple reasons (I also consider D I AA in this category).

Division II: I feel that D II athletes shouldn’t be paid either. I’m not quite sure how much money these students are given for their tuition bills in scholarships or how much free apparel they receive but I still don’t think these athletes should be paid or compensated for merely being an athlete.  They also get to travel for free to and from games.

Division III: Interestingly enough I do think D III athletes should receive small monetary amounts for their performances.  As a graduated D III athlete I feel a small compensation would help these athletes out a whole bunch! I don’t think they should be paid anymore than $1,000 a year (which I think would be too much anyway) but, I do think they should get some sort of compensation for their services to the institution.  Maybe it was just the school I attended but I received no pride apparel to show my love, passion, and support for my team or other teams at my school. I attended as many games, for other teams at my school, as I could and to support my Buccaneers I had to wear Beloit Buccaneer Football shirts.  We also didn’t travel too far and the places D III schools are aren’t much to look at nor spend time in.  Personally, I think D III athletes should be given a small amount of money to help pay for food, admission to other sporting events, and school apparel to show their school spirit around campus and at other athletic events.

I realize how much time and commitment it takes to play college athletics.  I’ve been there and lived it. I wouldn’t change anything from my college athletic career but, having a few bucks sent my way at the D III level would have been very nice and extremely helpful.  However, I know for a fact that in the upper levels of the NCAA athletes are taken care of very generously and well.  If the NCAA starts paying athletes where will the NCAA go to next? I don’t want to think about it, honestly.

I’m already not too happy with NCAA basketball as it is at the moment. With the new rule changes I’m pretty angry about the charge arc being implemented into the game.  But, that’s another issue.

Yes, college student athletes spend a lot of time preparing (2 hour workouts all year, games =being there 3 hours early for home games and more for away games + the time it takes for the game, 4 hours of meetings in a week, 15 hours of practice each week, a lot of time per week is needed in order to be succesful come game time)  for their sport even during the off season (I worked out during the winter, winter break from school, spring, and summer break for football) so I understand the costs of being an athlete. The gym membership cost is just one example. There are many costs but also many more benefits of being a college athlete, there’s no reason to start compensating and paying student athletes.  Overall, I do not feel student athletes should get paid. However, I have different feelings for each playing level.  But, in the long run they are STUDENT Athletes. Students first and athletes second.  So, why should they be paid unlike their counter parts who come to cheer them on during their games? Again, A whole other issue.

Thanks for reading….I would love to hear others thoughts and opinions on this issue so please leave a comment!!!!!


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!

Ohio State Makes the Cut


If you’ve been following my blog the past few days you’ll know that I’m on a streak of writing about an episode of College Basketball Final.  They ran through the 5 teams that have met the criteria of a championship caliber team.  These 5 teams are the Duke Blue Devils, Pittsburgh Panthers, Kansas Jayhawks, Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Purdue Boilermakers.  In this post you’ve probably already guessed that I’ll be writing about Ohio State given the title.  First I’ll review the criteria that has been met the past 10 Mens College Basketball National Champions.

  1. Teams have had win streaks of at least 10 games during the season
  2. Teams average MoV(margin of victory) is at least 10 points per game
  3. Teams must have been ranked in the preseason top 10

As you may also have guessed Ohio State met all three of these criteria making them 1 of 5 that have the best shot of winning the National Championship.

Ohio St.’s preseason ranking: 5 (As I mentioned before from the numbers I have Pittsburgh was also ranked 5th in the preseason)

Ohio St.’s MoV: 19.7

Ohio St.’s Record: 28-2 (15-2 Big Ten)

Ohio St.’s RPI: 2

I would be an idiot to say Ohio State isn’t a good team (although I did say that before they got into conference play. I was obviously wrong).  In fact I think they’ll get to the Championship Game.  One reason is the simple and undeniable fact that Jared Sullinger gets away with tons of fouls on the offensive end of the floor.  I haven’t watched a guy get away so many hooks (hooking your elbow around your defender giving you leverage as you push the defender clear of your desired path).  If for some reason the referees decide to start making that call I think Ohio State will face some bumps in the road.  Do I still think they’ll make it to the Championship game? Yes, I do.  That’s just my knock against the NCAA/Big Ten referees not making the right calls.  Sullinger is a very talented athlete and plays with an extremely gifted supporting cast.

The Buckeyes high five after a foul and a bucket

Thad Matta is also a very intelligent coach.  Ohio State only has 2 losses this season, #14 Wisconsin and #11 Purdue (All three of these teams are currently ranked in the top 10; OSU=1, Purdue=6, Wisconsin=10).  I do not blame either loss on Ohio State, both games were on the road.  Not many teams can go into the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin and pull off a win.  Playing Purdue in Mackey Arena is one of the toughest things to do as well, Purdue and Wisconsin both went undefeated at home this year too.

Ohio State currently ranks 20th in the nation in scoring (77.4ppg), 19th in assists/game (16.2), 3rd in Field Goal % (.495), and 216th in rebounds/game (34.1).  Some might look at the 216th in rebounds but look at how many they average.  34 boards a game isn’t too bad, it’s actually pretty good.  As of right now I have Ohio State losing to Kansas in the Title Game.


Some of you may think my posts are very sporadic and inconsistent. I would have to agree wholeheartedly.  Please keep in mind that I’m busy with classes, work, working out, and random shenanigans that college students find themselves partaking in throughout the week.  I’ll reiterate that I do watch a lot of college basketball when I can and usually only write about stories/issues/players/or teams that catch my interest at any given moment.  This next post was inspired by College Basketball Final on ESPN that I was watching during the early hours of March 3, 2011.  It was around 1AM in the morning and I was folding my laundry about to pass out at any second.  Then out of nowhere they started talking about the criteria a National Champion must meet.  According to College Basketball Final the past 10 or so championships have met these requirements/criteria.

Many of you may be wondering to yourself, what could the criteria be needed to win a National Championship????? Well I’ll tell you.  1) Must have at least a 10 game win streak at some point during the season.  2) Margin of Victory must is in the double digits {+10}.  and 3) Must have been ranked in the preseason top 10.  Only 5 teams made the cut.  The 5 teams that have the best shot at winning the National Championship, according to College Basketball Final, are Duke, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Ohio State, and Purdue.  When Jay Williams (former Duke point guard and National Champion) was asked who he thought was going to be cutting down the nets in April he responded, “I’m going with the Boilermakers”.

 

I’m not necessarily sure I agree with Jay Williams but I like his answer a whole bunch.  He also gave some pretty good reasons as to why Purdue has a good shot at winning the title.  As a Purdue fan I really hope he’s right. But, as you all know predictions and whatnot are only that.  Each team has a shot if they make the field of 68.  I’ve done my homework and have compiled the most accurate up to date stats for the 5 teams that I could find.  I’m going to be posting my thoughts and findings on each team separately so keep you eyes open and please post some feedback on what you think as well.

Thank you all for reading!

What Should I do?


What should I do? should I admit that I was wrong about Ohio State? Should I admit that I’m terribly pissed off at Purdue’s performance Tuesday night in Columbus? Should I admit that I don’t think Michigan State is as good as I thought they were going to be? Should I admit that I absolutely hate Ohio State and have no other wish than for ESPN and other commentators to stop blowing OSU’s dicks? What should I do? Should I switch my blog’s topic to college football? Should I just completely give up on making predictions altogether? Should I just give up blogging and save everybody’s time? What should I do?

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.  I’m going write a post about who, at this point in the season, I think should be in consideration for Player of the Year.  That’s what I’m going to do.  There’s 3 guys that really stand out to me at this stage of the season.  Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker(obviously), and JaJuan Johnson!

Jimmer Fredette just put on what is possibly the greatest show I’ve ever seen on a basketball court.  I haven’t seen much of Jimmer but that’s mainly due to BYU not getting much air time here in Wisconsin.  But, to my pleasure I got to watch him single handedly take down San Diego State Wednesday night.  The kid was amazing! He put up 43 points making it his second consecutive 40+ point game.  I personally had never seen such a performance from one player.  After looking at some of his stats I’m flabbergasted at just how good this kid is.  Some might argue that BYU isn’t really in that tough of a conference or this and that.  You know what? To score 26.7 points per game (before the stats of the SDSU game were added) you still have to put the damn ball in the bucket.  Fredette does just that.  He scores.  Whether it’s from the charity stripe (.900%), making jump shots or layups, or even from behind the arc (.410% from 3 point land) he puts the ball in the hoop.  He’s making his name a household name with his 40+ points nights.  I wouldn’t expect him to put 40+ from here on out every night but I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up a few more 30+ point nights.  Jimmer Fredette is a freakish scorer on the 9th ranked team in the nation and is currently 20-1(6-0).  If he doesn’t deserve Player of the Year then maybe one of these next two guys does.

Kemba Walker.  What hasn’t already been said about Kemba Walker?  I wanted to write a post solely on Kemba earlier this season but never quite found the time to get around to it.  Kemba is currently second in the nation in scoring with 24.4 PPG, only behind Jimmer Fredette from BYU (obviously mentioned above).  He’s also shooting .395% from behind the 3 point line and is sinking .831% of his free throws.  But what’s most impressive about Walker is his ability to take over a game and win the game for his Uconn Huskies.  On more than one occasion Kemba has been the star by hitting big last second game winners.  He’s also in a few games taken over earlier in the game and put up big numbers to give his Huskies comfortable leads that led to victories.  Kemba just might be the most deserving player of the Player of the Year award just from his last second heroics.  Between Kemba and Jimmer I have a tough time deciding who I think should win the award.  I sure wouldn’t want to be one of the voters this year.

My last guy is from Purdue.  It’s a well known fact that I’m a Purdue fan.  Some might say this is a “homer” blog, whatever the hell that means but hear me out.  JaJuan Johnson is leading the Big Ten in scoring with 20.6 PPG followed by Taylor Batter of Penn State with a 20.2 average.  Let’s take a closer look at JaJuan.  Tall, lanky, center that’s put on some muscle since coming in as a freshman 4 years ago and is a scoring force on the blocks, in the paint, with his mid range jumper, his turn around fade away, his nice little hook shot, his bringing the roof down dunks, and his 3 point shooting.  Yeah, I said it. His 3 point shooting.  As a center JaJuan is shooting .357% from 3 point land.  He’s a center shooting better than most guards from behind the arc.  Most of his looks from 3 point range aren’t always wide open shots either.  Teams have to extend their defense out to him and he’s knocking down 3’s with very little separation at all.  His ability to shoot from anywhere on the court this year is amazing and phenomenal.  I also want to point out that without JaJuan Johnson I don’t think Purdue has even 12 wins this season (that’s with Hummel out as well).  He’s the most important player on our team and has consistently showed everybody why he’s our go to guy in the crunch.  His toughness and determination has led the Boilermakers to their good start (with the exception of their game against Ohio State).  Johnson is the essence of the Player of the Year.  He leads his teams to victories and does it on a very consistent basis.  Like I said, without JaJuan Purdue at best has 12 wins thus far this season.  Do I think JaJuan will win the Player of the Year title? Probably not. But I think he should definitely be considered for the award.  He deserves it just as much as either Jimmer Fredette or Kemba Walker.

There you have it.  My top 3 players in the running for the Player of the Year award.  Don’t like it? Don’t read it.  What should I do now?


Being an Indiana boy and naturally hating Duke I fell in love with the Butler Bulldogs once my top two favorite teams were knocked out of the big dance (Kansas Jayhawks and Purdue Boilermakers).  I admit that it was just a love affair with the Bulldogs.  I never really invested much into Butler but found myself none the less rooting for them in the national championship game.  It’s no lie that Gordon Hayward was their team leader and helped them to their surprising runner up finish in the 2009-2010 season.  So, it is that much of a surprise to the Bulldog’s rocky start in the 2010-2011 season?

Not at all.  Last years team was same George Mason team that made it to the final four a few years back.  Coming out of the Horizon League I really didn’t know much about Butler and had them losing in the sweet sixteen.  I know my Indiana boys can play some ball but I’m not that confident in my small town schools, yet.  However, I don’t think the Bulldogs are suffering from the hangover from their title run just a season ago.  I think their early season struggles are due more in part to the departure of the sophomore stud Gordon Hayward.  He was the staple and glue of the team last season.

I’m not knocking Butler or giving up on them. I’m simply putting their season into perspective.  Their preseason ranking at #18 in the country I thought was a little ridiculous.  ESPN had to know they were wrong.  They probably just felt obligated to put the runner up in the top 25, the only problem I have with ESPN.  I’m not totally surprised by Butler’s rocky start but I still think the Bulldogs will start playing much better come conference play.

3 of Butler’s 4 losses come to solid teams; Louisville, #1 Duke, and Xavier.  After an impressive victory against Washington State I see a bright future for the Bulldogs.  Do I think they’re going back to replay Duke in the National Championship game? Not at all.  But I think the Bulldogs are making their way back into Horizon League champ form.  Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack need to step up and I think they showed their ability to do so this past weekend in Hawaii in the Diamond Head Classic tournament.  This, to me, is an important step before entering conference play coming up soon this coming week.  Some more good news for the Bulldogs is that Zach Hahn started hitting some big shots in their victory over Washington State Saturday night.

Personally, I don’t see Butler making another Cinderella run.  But, I can see them competing with Valparaiso for the Horizon League Championship.  And with Butler’s rocky start, winning the Horizon League is the only way I see them making the big dance come March.  Butler has a solid team and some very good athletes but, I don’t really consider them to be “back” with the big dogs and don’t really feel like they ever were “with” the big dogs.  I expect big things from the Bulldogs but think it would be completely unrealistic to expect to seem them back in the National Title game…..