Thursday, October 9, 2014

Know the Mocs Opponents: Butler

The Mocs second out of conference, D1 opponent is Butler. Prior to the season starting, I will take a quick look at all the teams on the Mocs out of conference D1 schedule. Yesterday, I looked at Wisconsin. Today, it's time for the Bulldogs.

It was not that long ago that Butler played in back-to-back national championship games. The Bulldogs have not been as good in recent years, and in their second year under Brandon Miller. Miller is currently on leave because of health issues. Who knows if he will back or not by the time of this game?

This game will be televised on Fox Sports 2. That's not exactly high level television, but this is the other game (other than Wisconsin) that looks very difficult on the Mocs schedule and like it might not be winnable. Still, it was not that long ago that the Mocs went up to Indianapolis and nearly pulled off the upset against Butler. This Mocs team is probably better than that one was.

With three players that started at least thirty games a year ago back, the Bulldogs are hopeful. Kellen Dunham averaged 16.4 points per game and came up with four rebounds per game. He is a 6-6 guard, making him a very difficult match up for the Mocs. Kameron Woods is 6-9 and averaged nine rebounds per game a year ago. Alex Barlow lead the team with 3.5 assists per game.

This Butler team does not have a ton of size, but neither do the Mocs. Dunham is such a great shooter, making 45.5% of his three pointers. He is going to be a very difficult match-up for the Mocs. The Mocs will probably also have their hands full with Woods. The Bulldogs have four new faces expected to get playing time. Kelen Martin is  a 6-6 freshman who appears to be a big time scorer and could make his mark early in the season in this one.

This Butler team is probably not quite good enough to get into the NCAA Tournament, and they lack the depth to truly contend in the Big East at this point. But this is still a solid team that could easily find themselves as one of the favorites in the NIT this offseason. Butler is better than any SoCon team the Mocs are likely to face, and probably better than any other team on the Mocs schedule other than Wisconsin and possibly Georgia. But there is no reason to fear this team. Travelling from Wisconsin to Butler is not a terrible trip, but this game will be just two days after the Badgers game. If the Mocs have their legs, they might be able to keep up in a televised contest.

Like I said earlier, Dunham is very good, and possibly a contender for Big East Player of the Year. Butler will likely go as far as he can possibly carry them. The rest of the team is the key to this season for the Bulldogs.

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