The Butler Bulldogs and Florida Gators have battled in the NCAA Tournament two times since in the last 11 years. The first came in 2000, when Mike Miller hit a runner in the lane at the buzzer to give the Gators a victory. The second time game during the Gators title run in 2007, as the Bulldogs gave them their toughest test of the tournament but just didn’t have enough down the stretch. Now here we are in 2011, and this version of the Butler Bulldogs is hoping this third matchup will end differently. But why should it?
I’ll be honest, the Florida Gators did little to impress me all season long. I thought the SEC was fairly weak, but here they are in the Elite 8. They have plenty of height and depth in the front court, with Chandler Parson and Alex Tyus leading the way. Their backcourt is quite the opposite, while the starters Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton lead the way, yet there is not much beyond them.
In Florida’s first three games of the tournament, they haven’t really faced a defense as good as Butler. Florida’s guards have been able to get into the paint and dish it off to a big or kick it out for the 3. Something tells me that Nored, Vanzant and Mack will not be letting this happen. They have too much pride at the defensive end of the floor to let that happen. How will Florida make adjustments to this? Or how will Butler adjust to it if Florida’s guards are successful?
Butler comes into the Florida game after handling Wisconsin with relative ease, minus the last 5 minutes of the game. The big question mark will be whether Sophomore Andrew Smith is ready to play. He sprained his ankle on Thursday night and was held out of practice on Friday. Coach Stevens expects that Smith will be ready to go. Even if he is, Kyle Marshall better be ready to play a few more minutes than normal because they will need him to keep Smith and Howard fresh down the stretch.
The one area I think Butler can exploit is the size of their guards versus the mini mites of Florida. If I were Brad Stevens I’d try to get Mack and Vanzant to post up some early and have Howard be out along the 3 point line for the inside-out play.
I had Butler getting this far in my own bracket before the tournament. I had them losing to BYU. Something tells me they might be happy that Florida won. Both these teams have played very well the last two weekends and it is unfortunate that one of their seasons will be coming to an end around 645 this evening. But that is essentially the beauty of March Madness, one of these teams will be heading to Houston in just a couple of days.
Keys to the Game
Butler’s front court staying out of foul trouble, Matt Howard has to be able to play the majority of the game. Much like the game against Pitt, Butler must minimize their turnovers and force double digit turnovers from the Gators.
Butler 66 Florida 63
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