10 Non-NCAA Tournament teams ready to make a splash next season

HOT UCLA CHEERLEADERS

College basketball fans whose team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament are probably already looking ahead to the 2012-2013 season.  Typical tourney teams like UCLA, Arizona, Butler, Villanova, and Maryland should have bounce back seasons next year and vie for a spot in the Big Dance.  Here are ten non-tourney programs to watch out for next season.

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Butler’s Shelvin Mack Testing NBA Draft Waters

shlevin mack

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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Don’t Underestimate Shelvin Mack and Butler Bulldogs

butler basketball

After dropping three of four in a two week span following Thanksgiving, the Butler Bulldogs fell out of the national rankings and were no longer on the minds of the national college basketball cognoscenti. Conventional wisdom believed that “The Butler Way” peaked last season, and the honeymoon period was now long over.

Sure, the Bulldogs had their struggles, but they’ve won 6 in a row since then, including four over power conference opponents (Utah, Florida St, Washington St, Stanford…Yes, I know it’s difficult to refer to the Pac-10 as a power conference these days).

And even though Gordon Hayward is now in the NBA, they still have another weapon possessing “league” potential in junior guard Shelvin Mack.

By Paul M. Banks

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Loyola Ramblers Always Seem to Give Butler Bulldogs FITS!

loyola-butler

In the modern era of college basketball, only one school in the state of Illinois boasts a national title. Guess which one.

The Illinois Fighting Illini? Sadly no, but they probably are the strongest program in the nation never to have cut down the nets. DePaul was great in the ’80s, how about the Blue Demons?

Nope, it’s actually the Loyola Ramblers, vintage 1963.

The Ramblers also went to the sweet sixteen in 1985. Unfortunately, they haven’t been back to the dance since then. But there is one team with which every game has a March type atmosphere. That would be last year’s national runner-up, the Ramblers’ Horizon League rival Butler Bulldogs.

In Wednesday night’s conference opener for both teams, the Butler-Loyola rivalry saw another nail-biter, as the Bulldogs handed LUC their first loss of the season 65-63 at the Gentile Center. Last year, when BU made their historical Final Four run, Loyola lost 48-47. I guess you could call both these games “moral victories.”

By Paul M. Banks

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Where Does Butler Go From Here?

by Peter Christian

The Butler Bulldogs accomplished a boatload in 2010. They had the longest winning streak of the season. They knocked off the heavily favored Syracuse Orange in the Sweet 16. They plowed their way through their bracket all the way to the National Championship and gave Duke a serious run for their money. They came within an inch or two of hitting a game winning shot to win the title. Now what?

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Gordon Heyward proves Butler is NOT real life “Hoosiers”

gordon hayward

By Paul M. Banks

INDIANAPOLIS- Now that Butler is back home to face Michigan State in the Final Four, a lot of people are describing the Butler Bulldogs, the first University to play in a Final Four they’re hosting since 1972, as “real life Hoosiers” or “this year’s Cinderella.”

Both are blatantly inaccurate.

These Bulldogs are much more like the 1979 Runner-up Indiana St. Sycamores, with Gordon Hayward playing the role of Larry Bird.

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