Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Tennessee
Coach: Brad Stevens (1-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Why They Can Surprise:
The names are mostly different, but the 2008-2009 Butler team sure looks a lot like the Bulldog teams of the past. They play smart basketball, keep the turnovers down and shoot lights out from everywhere on the floor.
The biggest reason Coach Brad Stevens’ team has dominated the Horizon League is the emergence of Gordon Hayward. The 6-8 freshman was a shooter and distributor in high school, but then he grew six inches. He is still a great shooter who hits 46.8 percent of his attempts from long range and a solid passer, but now he can also grab a ton of rebounds and block a few shots. The Bulldogs have Hayward teamed up with Matt Howard in the frontcourt. Howard is not as talented of a shooter as Hayward, but he is an aggressive player getting to the basket and can break down most opposing big men off the dribble.
Why They Can Disappoint:
In the past Butler has been successful with experienced players. That is not the case this year as seven of the top nine minute earners on the team are underclassmen. Three of the
starters are freshmen and that is especially important in the backcourt. Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored have done a good job this year, but Butler’s turnovers are a little higher than they have been over the past couple of years. Mack is a solid shooter from long range and will use his speed to get to the basket. Nored is not much of a scorer, but he will do all the little things the team needs to succeed. However, if they start acting like freshmen during the NCAA Tournament, Butler will lose their advantage in the turnover battle.
Who To Watch:
Willie Veasley is the only upperclassman in the starting lineup and he has to be a leader on the floor. The 6-3 wing is not as good of a shooter as Hayward or Mack or as good of a scorer as Howard, but he will be asked to do quite a bit of scoring to help compliment those guys. He averaged 8.9 points per game during the regular season and it will be important for the Bulldogs to have a fourth scoring threat on the floor during the tournament. That fourth threat could also be Zach Hahn. The 6-0 sophomore will take nearly all of his shots from beyond the arc, but he can get hot on certain days and tally 12 or 15 points.
Shelvin Mack, Freshman, Guard
Ronald Nored, Freshman, Guard
Willie Veasley, Junior, Guard
Gordon Hayward, Freshman, Forward
Matt Howard, Sophomore, Forward
Garrett Butcher, Freshman, Forward
Zach Hahn, Sophomore, Guard
Avery Jukes, Junior, Forward
Shawn Vanzant, Sophomore, Guard
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!