March 29, 2011

BULLDOGS RETURN TO THE FINAL FOUR

RETURN VISIT:  Butler is returning to the Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for the second consecutive year.  The Bulldogs (27-9), champions of the Southeast Regional, will face No. 11 seed Virginia Commonwealth (28-11) in the first semifinal game on Saturday, April 2.  The contest is scheduled to tip at 6:09 p.m. (ET) at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.    The second semifinal will match No. 3 seed Connecticut (30-9) against No. 4 seed Kentucky (29-8) at 8:49 p.m.  Butler, a No. 8 seed, began its march to the Final Four with dramatic victories over Old Dominion, 60-58, in the second round and top-seeded Pittsburgh, 71-70, in the third round.  The Bulldogs then defeated No. 4 seed Wisconsin, 61-54, in the Southeast Regional semifinals, before knocking off No. 2 seed Florida, 74-71 in overtime, in the regional championship game.  Butler is the lone school returning to this year’s Final Four.  The Bulldogs advanced to the national championship game a year ago.  

Butler is the first school from Indiana to earn consecutive trips to the Final Four.

BONUS PLAY:  The Bulldogs have advanced to post-season tournament play for the 13th time in 15 years.  Butler earned bids to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and this season, and to the National Invitational Tournament in 1999, 2002 and 2006. Butler’s post-season record since 1997 is 15-12 (11-9 NCAA, 4-3 NIT).

TOP 20:  Butler recorded its sixth consecutive 20-win season and its 13th 20-win ledger in the past 15 campaigns with a victory at UIC on Feb. 19.  The Horizon League record for most consecutive 20-win seasons is seven, set by the Bulldogs from 1996 to 2003.  Butler, coming off a school and league record 33-win campaign a year ago, has averaged 29.0 wins over the past five seasons, including two 30-win campaigns, and posted a winning percentage of .824.  The Bulldogs are the only team in Horizon League history to record five or more consecutive 20-win seasons and they’ve done it twice (1996-2003 and 2006-2011)!

The Bulldogs have tied the fourth-highest win total (27) in school history.
 
SUCCESS STREAK:  Butler has won its last 13 games, including four in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.  The Bulldogs’ last loss came on Feb. 3 at Youngstown State, 62-60.  The 13-game winning streak is Butler’s longest of the season and the second-longest streak under head coach Brad Stevens.

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

MARCH GLADNESS:  The Bulldogs are 17-3 in the month of March in four seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.  Butler has won 12 straight March contests, since dropping a game to LSU in the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

PLANTING SEEDS:  Butler is the first team in NCAA Tournament history to defeat both a No. 1 and a No. 2 seed before the Final Four in consecutive years.  The Bulldogs beat top-seeded Pittsburgh in the third round of this year’s tournament and then defeated No. 2 seed Florida in the Southeast Regional championship game.  A year ago, Butler beat top-seeded Syracuse in the West Regional semifinals and then upended No. 2 seed Kansas State in the regional championship.

PULLING RANK:  Butler’s victory over #15-ranked Florida was the Bulldogs’ third against a nationally-ranked squad in eight days.  The Bulldogs, who beat #4 Pittsburgh and #16 Wisconsin prior to the Florida win, have eight victories in their last 10 games against nationally-ranked opponents.  Both setbacks during that stretch came to Duke.  Butler has beaten nine nationally-ranked foes since Brad Stevens took over as head coach in 2007-08, including eight in NCAA Tournament play.  A year ago, the Bulldogs posted consecutive victories over #4 Syracuse, #7 Kansas State and #13 Michigan State on the way to the NCAA Division I national championship game.

REGIONAL REVERSAL:  Butler took two different routes to the championship stage at the Southeast Regional in New Orleans.  The Bulldogs pulled away to a nine-point halftime lead in the semifinals against Wisconsin and then stretched that margin to as many as 20 points midway through the second half, before holding off a late Wisconsin rally.  Two days later, Butler found itself trailing Florida by 11 points midway through the final period, before rallying to tie the game in the final 30 seconds and send it into overtime.  The Bulldogs out-scored Florida, 14-11, in the extra session to claim their second consecutive regional title.

PRIME TIME:  Junior Shelvin Mack grabbed the spotlight on Butler’s biggest stage this season and led the Bulldogs to the Southeast Regional championship with a game-high 27 points against Florida.  The 6-3 guard scored 14 points in the first half and then added 13 more in the second half and overtime period.  His three-point field goal with 1:21 left in the extra session gave Butler the lead for good at 72-70, and he later added Butler’s final points with a pair of free throws with 0:10 left.  Mack had four rebounds and a team-high four assists in the victory.

Shelvin Mack has scored in double-figures in 27 of Butler’s last 29 games.

SEEING DOUBLE:  Senior Matt Howard led the Bulldogs against Wisconsin with 20 points and 12 rebounds.  It was his ninth double-double this season and the 20th of his Butler career.  The 12 rebounds are the most Howard has had in his NCAA Tournament career, while the 20 points are the second-most he’s scored in 12 NCAA Tournament games (Howard had 22 points against LSU in 2009).  The 6-8 forward tied Butler’s NCAA Tournament single game rebounding record (first set by Jeff Blue against Bowling Green in 1962).

Matt Howard has led the Bulldogs in rebounding in 23 games this season.    

TOP PERFORMERS:  Butler’s Shelvin Mack was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Southeast Regional, after leading the Bulldogs to the team title.  Mack had 40 points in Butler’s two wins in New Orleans, including a game-high 27 in the championship game.  Senior Matt Howard, who tallied 34 points in Butler’s wins over Wisconsin and Florida, joined Mack on the All-Tournament squad.  The other three All-Tournament slots went to Florida’s trio of Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin and Kenny Boynton.  Mack made the NCAA Regional All-Tournament squad for the second consecutive year.

BOARD ROOM:  Butler out-rebounded both Wisconsin and Florida on the way to the Southeast Regional championship.  Despite giving away considerable size to both opponents, the Bulldogs came away with a 37-31 rebounding advantage over Wisconsin and a 41-34 advantage over Florida.  Butler had 16 offensive rebounds against Florida and out-scored the Gators, 18-12 on second chance points.  Senior Matt Howard led the Bulldogs with 17 rebounds in the two wins.

Butler has out-rebounded three of its four NCAA Tournament opponents.

TOURNAMENT DRAMA:  The Bulldogs, led by senior forward Matt Howard, turned in two performances in Washington, D.C., that weren’t for the faint-of-heart.  Butler went to the final second against Old Dominion, before Howard converted a lay-up at the buzzer to pull out a 60-58 victory.  Two days later, Butler’s Andrew Smith hit a lay-up with under three seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 70-69 lead over top-seeded Pittsburgh.  But it didn’t end there!  On the ensuing in-bounds pass, Butler’s Shelvin Mack fouled Pittsburgh’s Gilbert Brown with under two seconds left.  The Pitt forward made the first free throw to tie the game, but missed the second.  Howard grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Pitt’s Nasir Robinson with less than a second on the clock.  Howard made the first free throw to give Butler a 71-70 lead and then intentionally missed the second.

SENIOR MOMENT:  Forward Matt Howard, who shared team scoring honors against Old Dominion with junior Shelvin Mack, scored 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 buzzer-beater.

OFF THE GLASS:  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 five games that Butler held its opponent under 60 points.  The Bulldogs held five straight foes below 60 points in last year’s march to the NCAA National Championship game.

The Bulldogs are yielding 59.6 points during their current winning streak.  

LOOKING LONG:  The Bulldogs’ 12 three-point field goals against Pittsburgh were Butler’s second-highest single game total this season, trailing only the 13 three-pointers the Bulldogs had at Valparaiso.  Butler posted nine three-pointers against Florida, seven against Old Dominion and five against Wisconsin in its other three NCAA tournament games.

Butler is 17-3 this season when hitting eight or more three-point field goals.

RANKING WINS:  The Bulldogs’ victory over #4-ranked Pittsburgh was Butler’s fourth against a “Top 10” nationally ranked opponent since 2000 and its third in the past two NCAA Tournaments.  Butler defeated #4 Syracuse and #7 Kansas State in the West Regional of last year’s NCAA Tournament.  Butler’s other “Top 10” win came at Wisconsin in January of 2000.

SCORING STREAK:  Junior Shelvin Mack posted his 20th consecutive double-figures scoring performance with 27 points in Butler’s win over Florida.  He had 13 points against Wisconsin, 30 in the win over Pittsburgh and 15 against Old Dominion.  The 30 points against Pittsburgh were the most ever scored by a Butler player in NCAA Tournament action.  Mack has 85 points in Butler’s four tournament contests.  

Shelvin Mack needs 10 points to tie Butler’s NCAA Tournament scoring record, held by Gordon Hayward (2010).

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, while senior Matt Howard became the third in Butler’s victory over Pittsburgh this year.  Mack is Butler’s all-time tournament scoring leader with 195 career NCAA points, while Howard stands second with 148.  Hayward is third with 107.

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 seniors passed also set a school record for most NCAA Tournament games played with 13.

Matt Howard is the first player in Horizon League history to earn league All-Tournament honors four times.

BANNER WIN:  Butler’s victory over Loyola in the final regular season game gave the Bulldogs a share of a league-record fifth consecutive regular season championship.  It was Butler’s tenth overall league regular season title, also a league record.  The Bulldogs have won nine Horizon League regular season titles in the past 12 years.

QUICK START:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens owns the top spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 4 seasons.  The Bulldogs’ coach, who boasts a four-year record of 116-24, climbed past previous four-year leader Everett Case of North Carolina State, who compiled a 107-22 record from 1947-50.  Stevens also holds the NCAA three-year record with 89 victories, and he’s second on the two-year list with 56 wins.

Brad Stevens ranks fifth in all-time coaching victories at Butler.

TOURNAMENT TIME:  Brad Stevens is the first Butler head coach to reach the NCAA Tournament in each of his first four seasons at the helm of the Bulldogs.  He also participated in the NCAA Tournament as Butler’s director of basketball operations in 2000, and as a Butler assistant coach in 2003 and 2007.  He’s been on the sidelines with the Bulldogs for 15 of Butler’s 17 all-time NCAA Tournament wins.

LEAGUE LEADER:  Butler leads all Horizon League members in NCAA Tournament wins with 15 since the league was formed in 1979-80.  All other current members have combined for 10 NCAA Tournament wins during their time in the league.  Former league member Xavier has the second-most wins with five during its 16 years in the conference.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Matt Howard has been named the 2010-11 Academic All-American of the Year.  Howard was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Team for a school-record third consecutive year.

•Matt Howard is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented for notable achievement in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

•Matt Howard has broken the record of former teammate A. J. Graves (2004-08) for most career starts at Butler with 131.  Howard also owns the Butler career record for games played (139), breaking the mark (134) of former teammate Willie Veasley (2006-10).

•Matt Howard stands third on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,915 career points.  He’s also third on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 870 career rebounds.  Howard is Butler’s all-time leader in free throws made (635).

•Matt Howard is the first player in Butler basketball history to score 1,500 career points and grab 800 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard is third in the Horizon League in 3-point field goal shooting (.426).  Howard had not had a 3-point field goal in NCAA Tournament play before this year.

•Matt Howard posted his 100th career double-figures scoring performance in Butler’s win over Old Dominion.

•Matt Howard has 28 rebounds in Butler’s first four NCAA Tournament games.  He’s Butler’s all-time rebounding leader in NCAA Tournament play with 69.

•Matt Howard is Butler’s all-time leader for free throws made in NCAA Tournament play with 54.

•Matt Howard has averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds during Butler’s current 13-game winning streak.  He’s shot 48% from the field and 38.6% from the three-point arc over the past 13 games.

•Junior Shelvin Mack has moved into 11th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,490 career points.  He’s trails Wayne Burris (1973-77) in the No. 10 spot on the Bulldogs’ all-time chart by 41 points.

•Shelvin Mack has scored in double-figures in 28 of Butler’s last 30 games.  He ranks fifth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.9).

•Shelvin Mack became the fourth player in Butler basketball history to reach 200 three-point field goals during Southeast Regional in Washington, D.C.  He has 207 career three-pointers and trails Butler Coordinator of Basketball Operations Darnell Archey in third place on Butler’s all-time list by 10 three-point field goals.

•Shelvin Mack ranks fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 355 career assists.  He’s also currently fifth in the Horizon League in assists/game (3.6).

•Shelvin Mack has scored in double-figures in each of his 11 previous NCAA Tournament games.

•Shelvin Mack became the eighth player in Horizon League history to earn league All-Tournament recognition three times.

•Shelvin Mack is one of just three Butler players to score 25 or more points in an NCAA Tournament game, and he’s done it three times.  Pete Campbell (2008) and Darnell Archey (2003) are the other two.

•Shawn Vanzant had a streak of six consecutive double-figures scoring performances snapped in the Horizon League Tournament championship game.  It was the longest streak of his career.

•Shawn Vanzant has averaged 10.4 points over Butler’s 13-game winning streak, including a season-high 18 points against Cleveland State in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals.

•Shawn Vanzant is shooting .500 (50-100) over Butler’s last 13 games, including 15 of 32 (.469) shots from three-point range.

•Zach Hahn has moved into a tie for 12th place on Butler’s all-time list for 3-point field goals with 152.  He trails Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in the No. 11 spot by six three-pointers.

•Zach Hahn hit five three-point field goals in Butler’s NCAA Tournament run a year ago.  That tied for third-most on the team.

•Zach Hahn has hit 80% of his career field goals from beyond the three-point arc.

•Ronald Nored, Butler’s leader in assists (20) and steals (16) in last year’s NCAA Tournament, currently leads the Bulldogs in steals (40) and stands second on the squad in assists (84).

•Ronald Nored stands 11th on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 304 career assists.

•Ronald Nored has started just two of Butler’s last 13 games, but he’s been the Bulldogs’ sixth-leading scorer (4.0) during the team’s winning streak.  

•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 continues to lead the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.621).  

•Andrew Smith has averaged 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds during Butler’s current 13-game winning streak.

•Andrew Smith has led the Bulldogs in steals (16) and blocked shots (11) during the Bulldogs’ 13-game winning streak.

•Andrew Smith has led or shared the team lead in rebounding for the Bulldogs in eight of the last 11 games.  Smith grabbed at least eight rebounds in six straight games heading into the NCAA Tournament, including a career-high 11 caroms in the Bulldogs’ final regular season contest against Loyola.

•Chase Stigall averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds during the Horizon League Tournament.  He was the team’s third-leading rebounder in Milwaukee.

•Garrett Butcher came off the bench with six points and a team-high six rebounds in 13 minutes of action against Old Dominion.  Butcher had five offensive rebounds in the win.

•Khyle Marshall came off the bench with seven rebounds in each of Butler’s two games in New Orleans.  He had seven offensive rebounds in the Bulldogs’ victory over Florida.

•Khyle Marshall, Butler’s top scorer off the bench, has shot .568 (25-44) from the field during the Bulldogs’ 13-game winning streak.

•Brad Stevens is the youngest coach to reach his second Final Four.

•The Bulldogs are 50-3 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler has won 31 of its last 32 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.

•The Bulldogs are 8-1 on neutral courts this season, with the lone setback coming to #1-ranked Duke.  Butler is 19-7 on neutral courts under head coach Brad Stevens.

•Butler is one of 11 schools to reach the Final Four in consecutive years since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.  The others are Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Maryland, Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, UCLA, Michigan and UNLV.

•Butler is the first team to reach consecutive Final Fours and not be seeded No. 1 or No. 2 in either appearance.

•Butler became the 10th team in NCAA Tournament history to win at least three games by three or fewer points in a single tournament.

•Butler has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 27 wins for the second time in school history.  Previously, the Bulldogs finished 29-7 in 2006-07 and 30-4 in 2007-08.

•Last year, Butler traveled 6.1 miles to the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, This year, the Bulldogs will travel 1,029 miles to Reliant Stadium.

•The Bulldogs have set a school mark for best two-year win total with 60 victories over the past two seasons.