If Brad Brownell's team is to win one thing they can do is get Matt Howard into foul trouble. The junior forward has had more than his fair share of foul troubles this season but if he's on the floor and allowed to go to work it's going to be a long night. In the first meeting Butler turned the ball over seventeen times but more than made up for it by shooting a blistering 67.5% from the field (23-29 from two-point range). And that was a game in which Howard played just sixteen minutes; Willie Veasley led the way with nineteen points while Hayward added seventeen. Also of note: the average plus/minus for the starters in that contest.
Butler's starting five boasted an average plus/minus of +13 while the Raiders were far below that at -11.4. Todd Brown and Vaughn Duggins are two of those five starters and they must have superlative performances if Wright State is to pull off the upset. The game was essentially a matter of Butler getting whatever shot they desired; if the Raiders are unable to make them work for their shots they'll be in for a long night at Hinkle. As for other games bubble teams will be on display in both the Atlantic 10 and the Big East.
Rhode Island, Charlotte and Dayton all host first-round games and if they should lose there's no need to entertain thoughts of a Selection Show viewing party. As for the Big East, USF kicks things off with last-place DePaul. The Blue Demons may have the edge in regards to being ready to play in this noon tip since they were in the same exact spot against Cincinnati last season (the Bearcats were on the bubble in that game, similar to USF). The crowd could very well resemble that of a "friends and family night", meaning that the team that manufactures its own energy from the start will be at a decided advantage. Seton Hall is also a bubble team and they take on Providence in the first game of the night session. Those two met last Saturday with the Pirates winning on the road, but given the up-and-down styles that both teams play Seton Hall could have their work cut out for them.
Three total tickets to the NCAA Tournament will be punched with title games in the Sun Belt and Summit also taking place. Oakland was the best team in the Summit but it's not like Ron Hunter's Jaguars were that far off. And the Sun Belt was one of the most unpredictable leagues in college basketball this season, meaning that anyone's guess is a good one in regards to the matchup between Troy and North Texas. Before all the other major conferences tip off their league tournaments this will be a good mixture of games.
Noon ESPN2 USF vs DePaul (Big East Tournament)
2p ESPN2 Connecticut vs St. John's (Big East Tournament)
7p ESPN2 North Texas vs Troy (Sun Belt Final)
7p ESPNU Seton Hall vs Providence (Big East Tournament)
9p ESPN Wright St at Butler (Horizon Final)
9p ESPN2 IUPUI vs Oakland (Summit Final)
9p ESPNU Cincinnati vs Rutgers (Big East Tournament)
Atlantic 10 First Round (campus sites)
7p Duquesne at St. Bonaventure
7p Saint Joseph's at Rhode Island
7p Massachusetts at Charlotte
7p George Washington at Dayton
Big Sky Semifinals (Ogden, UT)
6:35p Montana vs Northern Colorado
9p Portland St vs Weber St
MEAC First Round (Winston-Salem, NC)
6:30p Florida A&M vs Bethune-Cookman
9p North Carolina A&T vs Howard
8p Pennsylvania at Princeton
Seton Hall over Providence: Look for this to be the wildest game of the day at the Garden, but the pick here is Seton Hall. Both teams have stretches of lackadaisical play/bad shot selection but the Pirates are the better of the two teams when it comes to turning their opponents over. Seton Hall wins by five.