Bulldogs Face Top-Seeded Pittsburgh

ADVANCE DEGREE:  For the fourth time in five years, Butler has advanced in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.  The Bulldogs, coming off a second round victory over Old Dominion, will face Pittsburgh, the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Regional, in a third-round match-up at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 19.  The game will tip at 7:10 p.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally on TBS.  Butler (24-9), the No. 8 seed in the Southeast Regional, moved forward in the tournament with a dramatic, 60-58, victory over Old Dominion.  The win at the buzzer gave Butler a second NCAA Tournament game for the sixth time overall.  The Bulldogs will face Big East regular season champion Pittsburgh, a 74-51 winner over UNC Asheville on Thursday.  The Panthers (28-5), one of the pre-tournament favorites, entered this week’s action as the No. 4-ranked team in both the Associated Press (A.P.) and the ESPN/USA Today national polls.  Pitt is in its 10th straight NCAA Tournament.       

Butler improved to 14-10 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.

TOP TEST:  Butler will be facing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.  A year ago, the Bulldogs defeated top-seeded Syracuse, 63-59, to earn their first “Sweet 16” victory and set up an “Elite Eight” game against No. 2-seeded Kansas State.  Butler was the only team in the 2010 NCAA Tournament to beat both a No. 1 and a No. 2 seed.

STREAKING BULLDOGS:  Butler has won its last 10 games, including two on the way to the Horizon League Men’s Basketball Tournament championship.  The 10-game winning streak is Butler’s longest of the season and the third-longest streak under head coach Brad Stevens.

The Bulldogs have tied the seventh-longest winning streak in Butler history.

LEAGUE LEADER:  Butler leads all Horizon League members in NCAA Tournament wins with 12 since the league was formed in 1979-80.  All other current members have combined for 10 wins during their time as league schools.  Butler’s Brad Stevens tops all coaches in the Horizon League with seven all-time NCAA Tournament wins.

LAST TIME OUT:  Senior forward Matt Howard hit a rebound shot at the buzzer to lift Butler to a two-point win over Old Dominion in the NCAA Tournament-opener for both teams.  Howard’s game-winning basket rescued the Bulldogs, who had lost a six-point lead in the final 2:35.  Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore hit a pair of free throws with 0:32 left to tie the game at 58-58 and set the stage for Butler’s final possession.  The Bulldogs wound the clock down under 10 seconds, and senior guard Shawn Vanzant drove to the right side for a potential game-winning shot.  But Vanzant’s foot slipped as he tried to elevate, and he wound up lofting the ball forward as he was falling backward.  Sophomore Andrew Smith got a hand on the errant shot and tipped it over the basket, where Howard caught it and converted the game-winner as the final buzzer sounded.  It was Butler’s sixth NCAA win in the past seven tournament games.

SENIOR MOMENT:  Forward Matt Howard, who shared team scoring honors against Old Dominion with junior Shelvin Mack, tallied eight of his 15 points in the final 7:25 against the Monarchs.  His lay-up at 7:25 put Butler on top, 51-50, and erased Old Dominion’s final lead in the game, and then he gave Butler its biggest lead in the final 10 minutes, 58-52, with a pair of free throws at 2:43.  He capped his closing run with his first career buzzer-beater.

BOARD DECISION:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens repeatedly stressed the importance of rebounding against Old Dominion, the nation’s No. 1 rebounding team.  The Bulldogs responded by out-boarding the national leaders, 32-29.  Butler pulled down a season-high 18 offensive rebounds in the game, including a team-high five by junior Garrett Butcher.  Sophomore Andrew Smith and Butcher tied for team rebounding honors with six apiece, while senior Matt Howard added five.  The Bulldogs were just the second team to out-rebound Old Dominion this season and the first since Jan. 13.

DEPT. OF DEFENSE:  The Bulldogs held Old Dominion to its lowest point total (58) in more than a month and nearly eight points below its season scoring average.  It was the fourth time in the past five games that Butler held an opponent under 60 points.  The Bulldogs held five straight foes below 60 points in last year’s march to the NCAA National Championship game.   
 
CENTURY MARK:  Junior Shelvin Mack became the first player in Butler basketball history to score 100 points in NCAA Tournament action with his first field goal in last year’s national title game.  Former teammate Gordon Hayward became the second later in the game.  Mack is Butler’s all-time tournament scoring leader with 125 career points, while Hayward stands second with 107.  Senior Matt Howard needs just two points to become the third player in Butler basketball history to score 100 NCAA Tournament points.

LOOKING LONG:  The Bulldogs, who nailed seven three-point field goals against Old Dominion, have averaged 7.4 three-point field goals per game during their current ten-game winning streak.  The Bulldogs have hit at least seven three-pointers in eight of the past 10 games, including 10 in a victory over Detroit on Feb. 12.  Butler averaged 7.3 three-point field goals during its six-game run in the national tournament a year ago.

RECORD APPEARANCE:  Seniors Matt Howard, Shawn Vanzant and Zach Hahn tied the Butler record for consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (4), set by former teammate Willie Veasley last year.  The three Butler seniors each have played in 10 NCAA Tournament games, one shy of the Butler record held by Veasley.

MARCH GLADNESS:  The Bulldogs are 14-3 in the month of March in four seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.  Butler has won nine straight March contests, since dropping a game to LSU in the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Matt Howard posted his 100th career double-figures scoring performance with 15 points against Old Dominion.

•Matt Howard boosted his Butler record for most NCAA Tournament starts to 10 in the game against Old Dominion.  

•Matt Howard moved into third place on Butler’s all-time list for NCAA Tournament scoring with 98 points in 10 tournament games.  He’s nine points behind former teammate Gordon Hayward in second place.

•Matt Howard, who’s second in the Horizon League in 3-point field goal shooting (.437), recorded his first three-point field goal in NCAA Tournament play in Butler’s victory over Old Dominion.  

•Matt Howard is two rebounds shy of Butler’s all-time NCAA Tournament record of 48, set Gordon Hayward (2009-10).

•Matt Howard moved ahead of Gordon Hayward and into first place on Butler’s all-time list for NCAA Tournament free throws made with 39.

•Shelvin Mack has scored in double-figures in each of his eight previous NCAA Tournament games, with a high game of 25 points against UTEP last year.

•Shelvin Mack, who hit three three-point field goals against Old Dominion, has hit a Butler record 20 three-pointers in eight NCAA Tournament games.

•Shelvin Mack is one of just three Butler players to score at least 25 points in an NCAA Tournament game.  Pete Campbell (2008) and Darnell Archey (2003) are the other two.

•Shelvin Mack has averaged 16.5 points during Butler’s 10-game winning streak, and he’s led the team in scoring five times over that stretch.

•Shelvin Mack won a gold medal as captain of the U. S. team at the 2009 U19 World Championship in New Zealand.  Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon was the head coach of that U.S. team, while Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs was a member of the team.  Also on the team was former Butler player Gordon Hayward.

•Shawn Vanzant is shooting .524 (11-21) in 10 previous NCAA Tournament games, including .583 (7-12) from beyond the three-point arc.

•Shawn Vanzant is shooting .533 (37-69) over Butler’s last 10 games, including 10 of 18 (.556) shots from three-point range.

•Zach Hahn ranks 14th on Butler’s all-time list for 3-point field goals with 141, two behind LaVall Jordan (1997-01) in the No. 13 spot and three behind Darin Archbold (1988-92) in the No. 12 position.

•Junior Ronald Nored holds Butler’s all-time NCAA Tournament records for assists (26) and steals (19).

•Ronald Nored is one of three current Bulldogs who has led Butler in scoring in an NCAA Tournament game.  Nored had a team-high 15 points in Butler’s second round victory over Murray State last year.

•Andrew Smith celebrated his return to Washington, D.C., with 11 points and six rebounds.  Smith was born in Washington, on Sept. 9, 1990.  

•Andrew Smith continues to lead the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.628).

•Andrew Smith has led or shared the lead in rebounding for the Bulldogs in the last six games and seven of the last eight.

•Butler’s 24 wins ties the seventh-highest single season win total in Butler basketball history.  The Bulldogs also had 24 wins in 1921-22 and 2000-01.

•Butler improved to 5-0 in NCAA Tournament play as the higher seeded team.

•The Bulldogs are 48-3 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler has won 30 of its last 31 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.

•The Bulldogs have been yielding just 58.0 points during the team’s current 10-game winning streak.  Butler has held five of its last seven foes below 60 points.

•The Bulldogs are 5-1 on neutral courts this season, with the lone setback coming to #1-ranked Duke.  Butler is 16-7 on neutral courts under head coach Brad Stevens.