Butler is a team that has looked insanely strong at times this season, but has taken some rough losses along the way. This will be Butler’s 15th tournament appearance (third straight under coach Chris Holtmann) but the Dawgs have still never won it all.
Defense has been a strength of Butler’s, especially under Chris Holtmann. In arguably their two best wins of the season (against #1 Villanova and later #2 Villanova) the Dawgs held Nova to just 58 points the first time, and 66 on Villanova’s home turf. In their big win against then #8 Arizona, Butler held the Wildcats to just 65 points. The Bulldogs are especially good in the halfcourt setting, where they can get steals that lead to transition offense.
Depth is another strong suit of Butler’s game. Chris Holtmann regularly plays nine or ten players which keeps them rested and the opposing defense on its heels. It also comes in handy in late game scenarios where foul trouble can be a problem. In Butler’s win @ Villanova, two of Holtmann’s best guards had fouled out by the final minute, and the next two had stepped up to fill their role brilliantly.
Throughout the season, Butler’s defensive weakness has come at the guard position. Frequently the Dawgs have given up 20+ point games to scoring guards (Jalen Brunson x2, Markus Howard, Mo Watson, James Blackmon, ect.) but manage to win most of those games with solid team defense. If Butler comes across a team with an elite scoring guard, or a couple, they might be in trouble.
Offensively, Butler has struggled at times in the season. When they played Marquette at home, the Dawgs only put up 25 points in the first half, but then exploded in the second half to win the game. @ Seton Hall, Butler only put up 61 points, but still won the game, holding the Pirates to 54. Butler isn’t going to blow anybody out of the water, but they typically win with their defense anyway.
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