Sunday, March 20, 2011

Butler Poised for Another Magical Run?

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Gordon Haywards last second shot in last years NCAA Championship game will forever be known for what could have been.

The Butler Bulldogs (25-9, 13-5) had made their way to the National Championship game after knocking off No. 1 and No. 2 in their region, back-to-back.

After watching their desperation attempt fall short at the buzzer, Butler was left empty handed but shown potential to get back where all the magic started.

Although, without superstar Hayward, it would be more of a struggle.

Jumping up and down in joy, was Butler at mid-court after making another last second victory to knock off the No. 1 seed in their region for the second straight season.

Butler enters the Sweet 16 for the second straight year currently riding a 11-game win streak and are on the brink of reaching the schools second Final Four if they keep winning.

But in order to continue their improbable run to another Final Four, Butler will have to withstand some outstanding tasks.

Namely, stopping the red-hot Wisconsin Badgers (25-8, 13-5) who win games on the defensive side of the ball.

Wisconsin was thought to be defeated in the first round by Belmont, but their stifling defense held them to 58 points and cruised to victory.

Just yesterday, the Badgers used defense to defeat the Kansas State Wildcats. K-State senior Jacob Pullen had scored 38 points on Wisconsin but guard Jordan Taylor made sure it wasn't 41, as he blocked the potential game-tying shot.

Wisconsin is a veteran team with a combined eight juniors and seniors on their roster. Taylor and Jon Leuer have played like seniors rather than juniors averaging double-figured scoring on the season.

The only real question mark this season has been, who will step up outside of the two juniors, and Wisconsin has proved their is more to the team than the two talented stars.

Butler has its share of talented stars led by Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. Howard hit two clutch shots to win the game in both outings in March, and Mack led the Bulldogs in scoring with 30-points against one of the better defensive teams in the nation.

It's hard to find many weaknesses on both sides, which is why this game will be filled with interesting match-ups. The one potential mismatch could be Ronald Nored against Taylor.

Nored is a great on-ball defender, and Taylor is coming off a poor-offensive outing against Kansas State. If Butler is able to utilize Nored's defensive prowess on Taylor, the Bulldogs will be in great position to win the game.

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