Quick Takes: Butler being Butler
As a Butler graduate, I should have known better. I should have seen this coming. Lose Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham. No problem. Step up Kelan Martin. Step in Kamar Baldwin. Do what you do Tyler Lewis and Andrew Chrabascz. Coach how you coach, Chris Holtmann. In early November, for our preseason bracket, I snuck the Bulldogs in the First Four. Knowing the grit of the group, I believed they would make the NCAA Tournament. I just wasn’t sure how the team would respond with the departure of do-everything Jones and sharpshooter Dunham. Well, after another quality win Saturday against in-state powerhouse Indiana, Butler is doing just fine. Minus a one-point hiccup at Indiana State, the Bulldogs are 10-1 with victories over Northwestern, Arizona, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, and IU. If the Dawgs take care of Vermont at home this week, they’ll end their non-conference season at 11-1. Unless Butler falls apart in Big East play, another solid seed awaits the Bulldogs in March.
Other Quick Takes from Saturday …
- Kentucky and North Carolina put on a show in Vegas. Malik Monk was out of his mind with 47 points. Both look like top-two seeds. Could be a fun rematch in a Regional Final or the Final Four. On a pure bracket note, the victory probably helped Kentucky more, given Carolina’s previous W’s.
- Purdue got a much needed win over Notre Dame. The Boilermakers had dropped their previous two high-profile games (Villanova, Louisville).
- Dayton’s rally fell short against Northwestern. Rhode Island is probably the A10’s best, but the league has struggled a bit in non-conference play. FWIW, Northwestern’s only two losses are at Butler (2pts) and to Notre Dame (4pts – neutral court).
- Big win for Memphis at Oklahoma. I’m not sure the Sooners will end up in the Bracket. Looks like it might be an uphill climb now.
- Illinois won its early “bubble” game against BYU at the United Center. The Illini need their NC wins over NC State, VCU, and BYU to hold up, assuming they take care of Missouri this week and manage a winning Big 10 record.
- It’s been a bit of a weird non-conference roller-coaster for VCU, but the Rams held on against a good Middle Tennessee State team Saturday.
- Still trying to get a feel for Xavier. On one hand, the RPI (yes, it’s early) loves the Musketeers. On the other hand, their best wins (based on that) are Wake Forest (yesterday) and Clemson. Those two wins against Northern Iowa? Meh. No shame in losing to Baylor or at Colorado, but the whole profile looks more suspect than solid in terms of a high seed. It’ll get sorted out in the Big East.
- Arizona is getting it done despite a thin bench. They held on against Texas AM Saturday.
- Georgetown won its 5th straight by taking down Syracuse at the Dome. The Hoyas are quickly playing themselves back in the picture and looking more like the team we expected.
- As for Syracuse, the Orange have a home win over Monmouth and not much else. The NC SOS isn’t very good and they’ve lost 4 of 5 games against the best teams on their schedule.
Enjoy your Sunday of college hoops and, of course, some football.