The Butler Bulldogs continued their successful tournament run last night as they dismantled the Wisconsin Badgers and won by a final of 61-54. Just like the first two games, the final points of the game were scored by Matt Howard, who clinched the game with an offensive rebound off a Shelvin Mack miss.
The final score doesn’t indicate the damage Butler did. They smothered Wisconsin from the opening tip. Their tight defense forced Wisconsin into poor decisions with the basketball, forcing the Badgers to more turnovers in the first half than their season average. The Bulldogs pressure took the life out of the Wisconsin players and their fan base.
Matt Howard finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Shawn Vanzant jumped out of the gate quickly helping Butler build its lead, but only finished with 10 points. The Bulldogs had a 9 point lead at half, and quickly turned it into a 20 point game in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Badgers made a late push with a full court pressure D, but the Bulldogs managed to hold on.
Two things which were impressive about the Bulldogs victory, they won the game and didn’t shoot the ball well from 3 point range or from the foul line. And their defense was just unbelievable, holding the Badgers to 30% from the field and forcing double digit turnovers.
Next up for Butler is the second seeded Florida Gators. Butler will clearly be the best defense Florida has faced all tournament long, and they will also be the most patient offensive team the Gators have played. It will be interesting to see how Andrew Smith is feeling, after suffering what appeared to be a sprained ankle. He did return to the game last night but definitely looked as if he was a step slow and in some pain. Hopefully for the Bulldogs his ankle doesn’t get too swollen and he is able to go on Saturday with a chance at back to back Final Four’s on the line.
I will be back tomorrow with a full preview of the Elite 8 matchup. I have basically been spot on with my previes for the first 3 games, here is hoping I can do it again.
About the Author
Written by Patrick Greissing
Life long resident of Washington, DC. A huge Washington Capitals and Miami Dolphins fan. Also have a strong passion for college basketball. Have coached at the high school and national AAU level. Always interested in talking sports. Follow me on twitter: @pgreissing