Bracketbuster Game Preview: #22 Butler at Davidson

February 21st, 2009

Davidson Wildcats

Record: 22-5 (11-2 home)
Conference: SoCon (15-2)
RPI: No. 56 (vs. Butler #27)
Last Five: 3-2

Other stats:
Scoring Margin: +12.9
Rebounding margin: +1.2
3-Point %: 36.1
FT%: 70.9

Notes:

Davidson in nutshell: Stephen “Son-of-Dell, All-American, deadly-scorer, hype-machine” Curry. Darlings of last year’s March Madness. Play in the Southern Conference. Beat West Virginia. Nearly beat Oklahoma. Forty-three-game conference winning streak snapped by College of Charleston. Curry sprains ankle two games later. Curry-less Wildcats spanked at home by the Citadel. Mr. Everything expected back for Bracketbuster.

On offense: Stephen Curry (duh). Will run a number of sets for him to A) shoot from anywhere, B) drive through traffic, or C) kick out to good 3-point shooters or dish for layups. Big man in the post Lovedale is a solid second option.

On defense: Will mix it up to keep Butler off balance.Press is very effective.

Starters

Davidson PG Curry, Seth 6’3 185 JR
PPG: 29.0, RPG: 4.1, APG: 5.8
Butler PG Nored, Ronald 6’0 170lbs FR
PPG: 3.8, RPG: 3.0, APG: 2.7

I was about to say something original about Stephen Curry but Steven A Smith beat me to it (and very loudly at that). However, I’ll give you two facts to ponder: 1) Curry accounts for no less than 54 percent of Davidson’s points; 2) Davidson averaged 80 ppg in its 26 games with Curry in the lineup. Without him, they scored 46 points…against the Citadel. Simply put, a Stephen-less Davidson is worse off than a Lebron-less Cavaliers. On the other side of the ball will be freshman Ronald Nored. As reported by Gary Parrish, Ron is a little naïve about the game, but he did have one of his strongest performances of the season against Milwaukee. He’ll need to limit his turnovers and play under control in this one.

Advantage: Davidson (in a landslide)

Davidson SG Barr, Bryant 6’4 190lbs JR
PPG: 7.4, RPG: 2.1, APG: 0.4
Butler SG Mack, Shelvin 6’3 185lbs FR
PPG: 12.2, RPG: 3.9, APG: 3.5

Barr is often on the receiving end of Curry pass and will knock down open 3’s. For Butler, Mack is amidst an ugly shooting slump (3-20 from behind the arc in the last three games). However, he can get hot in a flash and needs to stay confident.

Note: I’m giving Davidson the advantage in this match up; Davidson has zero backcourt disadvantage with Curry running the show. This choice has nothing to do with Barr versus Mack.

Advantage: Davidson

Davidson G Gosselin, Max Paulhus 6’6 210lbs SR
PPG: 4.9, RPG: 4.3, APG: 1.7
Butler G Hayward, Gordon 6’8 180lbs FR
PPG: 13.4, RPG: 6.3, APG: 2.0

Gossellin is one of many role players on Davidson. He’s a solid defender, but doesn’t have much of an impact on offense. Likewise, Gordon Hayward failed to make any sort of an impact against Milwaukee. Opposing team’s defenses have finally stopped helping dribble penetration and leaving Hayward wide open in the corner. He needs to be more aggressive and create his own shots, rather than wait for others to do so for him. He’s certainly capable of it.

Advantage: Butler

Davidson F Rossiter, Steve 6’7 230lbs JR
PPG: 5.9,, RPG: 6.3, APG: 1.9
Butler F Veasley, Willie 6’3 190lbs JR
PPG: 8.7, RPG: 4.1, APG: 1.4

Rossiter is built tough and makes most of his impact down low. He’s more of a role player than anything and likely won’t impact the final score. Veasley should be awarded the task of containing Curry. His defense for most of the season has been stifling, but has digressed recently. On offense, he will need to score is average to help Butler win.

Advantage: Butler

Davidson C Lovedale, Andrew 6’8 220lbs SR
PPG: 12.4, RPG: 8.9, APG: 0.5
Butler C Howard, Matt 6’8 220lbs SO
PPG: 14.1, RPG: 7.0, APG: 1.2

Besides everyone versus Stephen Curry, this is the most intriguing match up of the game. Davidson’s Andrew Lovedale is a rebound and shot blocking machine down low and he’s added some nice post moves to boost his offensive repertoire. He’ll be matched against the heart and soul of Butler. You can’t fault Howard for Butler’s recent slide. He’s been playing his guts out and his numbers show it (50 points, 18 rebounds, and 6 blocks in two games).

Advantage: Butler

Bench

Davidson
G/F Archambault, Will 6’6 220lbs JR PPG: 8.6, RPG: 3.9, APG: 1.7
G McKillop, Brendan 6’0 185lbs SO PPG: 5.6, RPG: 1.4, APG: 1.3
F Allison, Ben 6’9 220lbs FR PPG: 4.3, RPG: 2.6, APG: 0.3

Butler
G Hahn, Zach 6’0 170lbs SO PPG: 5.9, RPG: 1.4, APG: 0.9
F Butcher, Garrett 6’7 190lbs FR PPG: 2.3, RPG: 1.5, APG: 0.2
G Vanzant, Shawn 6’1 175lbs SO PPG: 3.7, RPG: 1.7, APG: 1.1

Davidson’s bench is led by Will Archambault, the team’s third leading scorer. Brendan Mckillop aka “The Coach’s Son” will see some time as well. Butler will need a spark from its bench. Vanzant is back from injury and should get to know Curry pretty well in this one.

Advantage: Push

Final Analysis: ESPN’s marquee Bracketbuster may have lost some luster to fan’s outside of the two teams, but it couldn’t be more exciting or important for Bulldog and Wildcat fans. Butler is reeling and needs gain some confidence as well as there 3-point shot. A loss at Davidson almost certainly means Butler won’t receive an at large bid. The key for Butler will be containing Curry, team defense, rebounding and playing with heart and passion. A few 3’s wouldn’t hurt either. On the other side, home court advantage will give the Wildcats a huge boost. Curry’s health will be a big question, but I expect him to play to his full potential. Once that adrenaline gets going, he’ll forget about his ankle and welcome the home rims. Butler has lost its last two Bracketbuster games (both at home). Things won’t be easier on the road. Strike three for the Bulldogs.

Prediction: Davidson 71 Butler 65

Your thoughts: Huge game, let’s here what you have to say about it. I know my prediction won’t be popular.