The Bulldogs have advanced to the national title game for the second year in a row by virtue of their 70-62 win over VCU on Saturday night. Their opponent will be the Connecticut Huskies, and the high scoring guards of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb. It will be a game of the “all American All-American’s” against the McDonald’s All-Americans. Butler came out on the losing side in last year’s title game by a matter of inches, and they are looking to change things this time around.
UCONN will present many interesting matchups for Butler. Butler will rotate 5 guards in and out of the lineup, while most likely only using 3 big men. Lamb and Walker rarely leave the floor for UCONN. This could be a key factor in the game. Brad Stevens will have the ability to keep having relatively fresh guards to defend Lamb and Walker. UCONN began to show some tired legs in the game against Kentucky, however I don’t think that will be an issue tonight as all the kids know they have 40 minutes left in their season, win or lose.
It will be interesting to see how Coach Calhoun and his staff decide to defend Matt Howard. He has a very favorable matchup as he will be able to post up early and then bring the immobile UCONN big men out on the perimeter for pick and pops or rolls to the basket.
Another interesting matchup will be whether Shelvin Mack and Kemba Walker end up guarding each other. I expect both coaches will want to avoid that to make sure each is fresh at the offensive end of the floor. You should expect Walker to see a lot of Vanzant and defensive stopper Ronald Nored.
Keys to the Game
Rebounding: UCONN definitely has a size advantage and should win the rebounding margin off that alone. But their big men aren’t as hungry as Butler’s. So if Butler can stay within 4 rebounds or win that battle it could prove to be huge.
Foul Trouble: Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack have to avoid foul trouble. Howard got caught in the last game doing a little too much reaching. He has to play a smart game.
Bench Scoring: Ronald Nored, Zach Hahn and Khyle Marshall have to provide points off the bench. Or create more opportunities through rebounds and steals.
It is very hard to pick against Kemba Walker. He has brought this young UCONN team together and they are on a roll. However Kentucky’s defense caused problems for the Huskies, and Butler plays better D than the Wildcats did. Nored will stay in front of Kemba most of the night limiting his penetration.
Butler 64 UCONN 60
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