The Orange are leaving the comfy confines of Buffalo, NY and heading to Salt Lake City where they'll playing in their second-consecutive Sweet 16. Unlike last year, they'll try to move on to the 2nd game, and beyond. Joining them in the SLC will be 2-seed Kansas State, 6-seed Xavier (who did us the favor of eliminating Pitt) and No. 5 Butler, whom the Orange will play on Thursday at 7:07 p.m. EST.
So this all begs the question...who in the hell are the Butler Bulldogs.
Butler University was founded in 1855 as North Western Christian University in Indianapolis. (So doesn't that mean that Butler can't play in the Final Four because it's being played in their home city? If we can't play in Syracuse, they can't play in Indianapolis.) Wanting to spice things up a little bit and not be like lame-ass Northwestern University, they changed the name to Butler to honor founder Ovid Butler, a well-known attorney and abolitionist.
Some famous alums include Ohio State coach Thad Matta and...that's about it.
But let's talk basketball. The Bulldogs are not your average mid-major. The Bulldogs began the season as the No. 11 team in the nation and, 26 wins and 4 losses later, they ended it in exactly the same spot. They're also no stranger to the NCAA Tournament (4-straight appearances), nor are they a stranger to the Sweet Sixteen. This is their third appearance in the third round in the last seven years ('03, '07).
They actually have National Championships, too. Kinda. They won a title in 1924, according to the AAU national tournament, and again in 1929, bestowed on them by the Veteran Athletes of Philadelphia. Oddly enough, the VAP is still considered a more credible governing body than the BCS.
Head coach Brad Stevens is doing very well. He's led the Bulldogs into the tourney all four years and broke the record held by Gonzaga's Mark Few for most wins in first three seasons as head coach." He's the two-time Horizon Conference Coach of the Year and will be a welcome addition to whichever major conference team snatches him up in the next 1-2 years.
Want a scary stat o'the day?
Butler has the best winning percentage and most wins of all D-I men's basketball programs in the state of Indiana over the last decade (21.6 wins per year through 2006), while having won the last six meetings with in-state rival Notre Dame and two of the last four against Indiana University.
Butler made it here by pulling away from UTEP in the first-round and then surviving upstart Murray State in the 2nd-round. The Bulldogs trailed at halftime in both games and fought their way back. They've now won a school-record 22-straight games and haven't lost in 2010 (last loss was December 23rd).
The key to beating Butler for the Orange? Well, I'm not quite sure. Just keep doing what you're doing, I suppose.
Butler has many different ways to win. Against Murray State, the difference was turnovers. The Bulldogs had only six and scored 19 points off 18 turnovers by the Racers. Balanced scoring is another strength. Five different players have led the team in scoring in the last nine games, including defensive specialist Ronald Nored’s 15 against Murray State. “That’s a big thing about our team,” Nored told the Indianapolis Star. “No matter who is struggling, what anybody is going through, we’re all there for each other.”