Tonight, Virginia will vie for its second Sweet 16 appearance in three years as it plays Butler in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Raleigh, N.C. Our Drew Goodman talked withfrom Big East Coast Bias to get more insight into this Bulldog team.
A 10-point win in the first round over a P5 opponent is a great way to start the NCAA tournament. What sort of things did Butler do a good job with in the opening round win over Texas Tech?
Butler maximized their mismatches over the Red Raiders in that win. Butler shot exceptionally well from three as they shot 52.9% from deep, especially Kellen Dunham who went 5-9 from deep and had some big shots late. The Bulldogs also were able to control the glass and outrebound Texas Tech 34-28 and control the flow of the game for much of the second half. It was a close game at halftime but strong offense down the stretch and controlling the boards was what Butler did right to win the game.
What makes Butler so dangerous offensively?
What makes Butler so dangerous on offense is their ability to shoot from the outside and score quickly. The Bulldogs average around 80.6 points per game which is good for 22nd in the country and they can score in bunches. They are pretty deep when it comes to scoring as they have four guys average over double digits in scoring with two, Kelan Martin and Dunham, averaging around 16. Anyone can go off on any given night for the Bulldogs. They are also good from shooting from the outside. The Bulldogs shot around 40% from deep with Dunham being the most dangerous shooter. The Bulldogs love to move up and down the court and transition three’s are always in play. If Butler gets hot, they will stay hot. Doesn’t matter who is guarding them.
It's tough to get a feel for a Virginia team that blew out a 16-seed by 36 points, but what do think Butler's biggest challenge will be against a team that likes to play at the pace that UVa does?
I think Butler’s biggest problem against UVA will be to make sure to try and control the offensive glass and shoot effectively. Against a team like Virginia, it won’t be easy for Butler to score points. Possessions come at a premium against the Cavaliers. Butler has to make sure that they take good shots, rebound well, and don’t allow UVA second-chance possessions. The Bulldogs aren’t as skilled on defense as they are on offense and if they don’t play well on offense this game could be over quickly.
What does Roosevelt Jones bring to the table and how is he such a matchup problem for opposing guards?
Jones does everything for the Bulldogs. He averages 13.7 points , 6.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. So essentially, he contributes all around the court for the Bulldogs. Although his jump shot is really suspect, Jones can drive to the basket and his finishing around the rim is exceptional. I feel his size will be the biggest problem for UVA’s guards. He’s 6’4" but plays so much bigger than that. He’s great at rebounding and like I said earlier, can play in the post and finish near the rim. He’s not as quick as any of UVA’s guards but he makes up for it with his physical presence.
X-factor and predictions?
The x-factor for Butler will be Martin. Martin started off the season on the bench was expected to be just a regular sixth man. But he just exploded during the season and is now one of Butler’s best players. Martin had some key buckets down the stretch against Texas Tech and he is Butler’s best player on offense. He can score at will and individually will give Virginia all they handle. In fact, Butler will give Virginia everything they can handle. It will be a tighter game than some people expect but I think UVA’s talent will win out in this game.
Prediction: Virginia 70 Butler 64