March Madness is almost here. Texas and Butler tip off Thursday afternoon in their round of 64 game of the NCAA tournament. To help us prepare, we sent a few questions to Robert O'Neill, the Co-Managing Editor of Big East Coast Bias, SB Nation's blog devoted to the Big East.
You can see my answers to Robert's questions here.
BON: The Big East has been through a rather significant transformation over the last few years. What is the league like these days?
Robert O'Neill: It certainly has been a rough couple years since the likes of Syracuse, Louisville, and UConn left the conference, but the Big East is doing just fine. Six teams (Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, Butler, St. John's, Xavier) made the NCAA Tournament this year from the Big East. Marquette and Creighton didn't make it, but both have very good recruiting classes coming in next season. I think overall, top to bottom it's a better conference than, say, the American or the SEC both this season and going forward.
BON: What is the most important thing Texas fans should know about the Butler Bulldogs?
RO: I don't know if this is necessarily the MOST important thing to know about them, but for the sake of this being a Tournament game, projected by many to be very close, I'll allow it: Butler is horrendous from the free throw line. They shoot 68%, as a team, from the stripe. That's better than only 11 teams in the NCAA Tournament. If Texas happens to be trailing inside the final few minutes by only a couple points, fans should stay calm. Chances are, Butler won't put them away from the foul line.
BON: Both Butler and Texas are outstanding on the glass. How do you expect this match up of strength versus strength will play out, and do you think either team can gain an advantage on the boards?
RO: I think that's part of the reason this game is going to be so much fun to watch, really. It will be very tough for either team to get an advantage. Both teams have multiple players who average more than five rebounds per game. Butler has Kameron Woods who averages 9.8 a game, so I think Texas would be able to get an advantage on the glass if Woods picks up a couple early fouls and has to take a seat
BON: Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones are obviously the stars for Butler. But who else should Texas fans know about coming into this game?
RO: Well, I mentioned Kameron Woods above, he's a huge presence for the Bulldogs defensively, but doesn't bring all that much to the table offensively (7.8 PPG). Outside of Jones and Dunham, the one player to focus on defensively for Texas is Andrew Chrabascz. He's fully recovered from a broken hand he suffered a few weeks back, and he thrived in the Big East Tournament against Xavier, scoring 16 points. He had a 30 points game earlier in the season against Marquette, also. Kellen Dunham is the Bulldogs' first option offensively, but Chrabascz and Jones, I would say, are tied for second.
RO: It's tough to make a prediction in this game because both sides are so evenly matched. While Texas struggled down the stretch a bit, I think they have more talent overall than Butler. However, I think Butler might be a more battle tested team, given that they played North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Indiana out of conference. I'm going to go with Butler in a close one.
Thanks again to Robert for taking the time to give us his thoughts on the Butler Bulldogs. Also, I deserve extra credit for not asking a single question about Butler Blue, the Bulldogs' famous skateboarding mascot who recently threw up on the floor during the Big East tournament.