Indiana Hoosiers get caught playing Butler’s game, fall to in-state foe

The No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers have become known for going on scoring tears — particularly on fast breaks — when they can create even the slightest cushion against opponents.

In-state rival Butler never let Indiana have that chance Saturday.

The Bulldogs (8-2) asserted themselves physically against the Hoosiers (9-1), per the custom of Brad Stevens-coached teams, and knocked off the nation’s top-ranked team 88-86 in an overtime thriller at Bankers Life Fieldhouse as part of the now annual Crossroads Classic.

Butler led by as many as seven before a furious rally by Indiana, fueled by Victor Oladipo’s defense. Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell, who only seconds before had committed a costly turnover, hit a huge 3-pointer before regulation expired to tie the game at 76-76. It was Butler guard Alex Barlow, however, who would have the contest’s final clutch moment, tossing a floater over Indiana’s Jordan Hulls for the game-winner.

The Bulldogs didn’t just step it up late, though. They made sure all game long they’d have this opportunity.

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#45 Butler Bulldogs: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The Butler Bulldogs pre-season began on a rough note with expected starting point guard Chrishawn Hopkins getting dismissed from the team.  Still, Brad Stevens has enough talent on the roster to bounce back from a less than stellar year in the Horizon League and be extremely successful in transitioning to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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Brad Stevens to the Illini? Settle down everybody

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After swinging and missing on Shaka Smart, the University of Illinois has gone full throttle after Butler head coach Brad Stevens. Multiple sources confirm that there has been contact between Stevens and the University. There is confirmed interest on Illinois’ part, but no confirmed interest on Stevens’ part- yet.

So everyone settle down! I’m talking to you message board people.

Yes, negotiations between the two parties have begun, and there’s even tweets/rumors about private jets being flown from Champaign to Indianapolis, but no deal is close to being signed yet. So everyone chill out.

But we can look at why this deal would or would not make sense for Stevens and Illinois.

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Butler Projected to Win Horizon League, Two Chicago Teams Picked at Bottom

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For the third consecutive year, Butler has been picked as the Horizon League favorite in the annual preseason poll of league coaches, media and SIDs. Makes sense given how they’re coming off back to back national title game appearances, and have been far and away the class of the HL the past three college basketball seasons. (Also the only mid-major to earn their own Category here on TSB)

The Bulldogs received 468 points in the poll. Detroit, with 19 first place votes, picked up 453 points. Cleveland State received two first place votes and was tabbed third with 388 points, while Milwaukee picked up the remaining first place vote and finished fourth in the poll with 356 points. Cleveland State and Milwaukee tied with Butler for the Horizon League regular season title a year ago.

Our two local teams, Loyola and UIC, were picked dead last and penultimate. Ah yes, sweet home Chicago!

For our season preview of Butler go here

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#28 Butler Bulldogs: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Maybe I haven’t learned my lesson and should be ranking the Butler Bulldogs higher after back-to-back trips to the National Championship game.  However, Brad Stevens loses three of his top four scorers and has a lot of inexperience on his roster.

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Butler’s Shelvin Mack Testing NBA Draft Waters

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Butler’s Shelvin Mack has officially submitted the necessary paperwork to declare for this year’s National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft. He has not hired an agent and has followed all of the guidelines to retain his eligibility.

“I’m exploring my options and gathering information to see what opportunities might exist for me,” said Mack, who completed his third season with the Bulldogs.

“I’ve always had a dream to play in the NBA, and I want to make an informed decision on that possibility.” Mack sparked Butler’s run to a second consecutive national championship game. He averaged 20.3 points in Butler’s six NCAA tournament games, and he led or shared the team lead in scoring in five of the six tournament contests. The 6-3 guard had 30 points in Butler’s victory over top-seeded Pittsburgh, and he tallied 27 points in the Bulldogs’ win over second-seeded Florida.

He set a Butler NCAA tournament record with 122 points in this year’s Division I National Championship. “It’s really exciting any time you have a player and person of Shelvin Mack’s calibre who is in a position where we can do the research on what his NBA opportunities might be,” said Butler head coach Brad Stevens. “We look forward to helping him through every step of this process and gathering information to help him with his decision.”

Mack, who started 37 of 38 Butler games this past season, was Butler’s second-leading scorer in 2010-11 with a 16.0 average. He led the Bulldogs in assists (131) and finished third on the team in rebounds (4.5). He was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Southeast Regional, and he was picked to the All-Tournament Team at the Final Four for a second consecutive year.

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Butler vs. UConn: National Championship Drinking Game

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Welcome to the third annual NCAA Tournament Championship Drinking Game, one of our favorite articles every year here at The Sports Bank.  If you missed our first two editions, you can check the 2009 Michigan State vs. North Carolina version and last year’s Butler vs. Duke one.

Even if you do not have a rooting interest in tonight’s game between Butler and UConn, invite some friends over, buy a heck of a lot of booze, follow our drinking rules, and it will be as much fun as if your own team was playing.

Our lawyer insists we add the following: The Sports Bank is not responsible for anyone dumb enough to actually try this and the harm to his/her body that would certainly occur if this game was played.  If you are idiotic enough to attempt keeping pace with this game, please have your local emergency room on stand-by and do not drink and drive.  Thank you.

By: David Kay and Peter Christian
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10 Butler-UConn National Title Game Questions

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It’s finally here, the Super Bowl of college basketball. The end of all the madness that March left will be resolved on Monday night between the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies. I think Butler has the advantage with the experience and better guard play (sorry Kemba Walker). If Butler can force this young UConn team to make mistakes, they should win.  It should literally be an old fashioned dog fight – and not the kind that Michael Vick is invited to.

Here are 10 questions that will need answered for Monday’s National Championship Game:

by Ryan West [Read more…]

Can Butler’s Matt Howard Make it in the NBA?

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Matt Howard of the Butler Bulldogs is to committing a good hard foul what Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is to being unfunny and possessing no wit.

Howard benefited greatly from sophomore Center Andrew Smith breaking the starting lineup. This allowed Howard to move from the five to the four, giving him more experience playing the only position he has a legitimate chance of playing at the next level. Howard, lost weight in the offseason and improved his jump shot.  He’s a great college basketball player, but his skills do not necessarily translate to the next level.

Still, he could get serious looks due to his intangibles and actually make a roster due to his winning ways and the energy he brings. And he’s smart too, Matt Howard was the Academic All-American of the year.

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

Go here for our NBA draft stock analysis of Shelvin Mack

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Butler Overpowers Wisconsin 61-54: Sweet 16 Rapid Reaction


Wisconsin’s dynamic duo of Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer appeared to run out of gas as they combined for an ugly 7-of-31 (.226) from the field in a 61-54 loss to the #8-seeded Butler Bulldogs.

For the fifth straight year, the Badgers have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by a mid-major team (UNLV, Davidson, Xavier, Cornell and Butler).

“We just needed to put a few more minutes together here tonight so we could keep dancing, but the music stopped playing. So we just wish Butler the best of luck in their journey for what they’re looking for,” said Badgers Head Coach Bo Ryan.

By: Nick Grays

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Butler Bulldogs Prepare for Wisconsin Badgers in NCAA Sweet Sixteen

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If college basketball has an Alexander the Great, it’s probably Butler Bulldogs head Coach Brad Stevens. Like the ancient ruler who conquered half the known world before his 20th birthday, Stevens has accomplished a lot at a very young age. He graduated from college in 1999, but he’s already taken a team to within three points of a national title, and three sweet sixteens.

Only five coaches in NCAA men’s basketball history have reached 100 wins faster than Stevens and none has done it in the last three decades. Butler will make its fourth “Sweet 16” appearance in nine years when they meet the No. 4 seed Wisconsin in the Southeast Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The game between the two Midwest (and very, very white) teams is scheduled for a 8:57 p.m. (CT) tip and will be televised on TBS.

By Paul M. Banks

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Head NCAA Referee Explains Bizarre Ending of Butler-Pittsburgh Game

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It was the most talked about college basketball game of the weekend; and not just because it featured a big upset. it had one of the weirdest endings to march madness that we’ve seen in awhile.

Minutes after the ending of No. 8-seeded Butler’s bizarre, 71-70, win over No.1-seeded Pittsburgh in the Southeast Region’s third round game, both the Atlanta (Matt Winer, Steve Smith, Seth Davis and Phil Martelli) and New York (Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Rick Pitino) NCAA Tournament studio shows aired interviews with John Adams, National Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating.

Atlanta

On the crucial calls between Butler and Pittsburgh at the end of the game:

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