The best thing that I can say about the Wisconsin game is that it is over and the Mocs will not have to play a team of that caliber again until the NCAA Tournament, if the Mocs happen to get that far.
That's why this game is nice. The Mocs expectations went down to many observers after their performance against Wisconsin, but the Badgers are that good. They really are. It would have been nice if the Mocs kept it closer, but they didn't and it is time to move on and try to beat a Butler team that has a big name nationally, but their current team doesn't quite match the name brand.
Butler is led by the return of Roosevelt Jones, who missed all of last season with a wrist injury. He was named to the preseason All Big East Honorable Mention team. Jones is a decent ball handler, but is tough and the player that could guide this team to a surprising, successful campaign. He averaged in double figures two years ago and over five rebounds per game. He will be the key to a lot of games during this season for the Bulldogs. He scored fourteen points with nine assists in the opener.
Kellen Dunham was named to the preseason All Big East First Team. He averaged 16.4 points per game a season ago along with four rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest. Dunham shot under 40% from the floor for the year last year, and over 80% from the free throw line. Dunham scored 18 points in the opener. Dunham made five of seven from long range in the opener.
Alex Barlow made two of two from three point range in the opener. He had six rebounds and six assists to go along with his six points.
Remember how Wisconsin struggled shooting the ball in the opener and then were red hot in the game against the Mocs? Well, a little bit of the opposite could be at play here. Butler shot over 71% from the floor in the opener, including 50% from three point range. The Bulldogs are not that good of a shooting team, but Maine was woefully undermanned inside.
The Mocs are not quite as woefully undermanned on the inside, even if the Badgers exploited them there in the last game. Justin Tuoyo, Chuck Ester, Duke Etheridge and Lance Stokes give the Mocs some inside presence. If the Mocs can slow down the Bulldogs red hot shooting and compete on the boards, they could hang around in this one.
On top of that, the Mocs will need to force some turnovers out of the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have not always handled pressure defense as well as they could. If the Mocs athleticism shows up and forces some turnovers, they could certainly keep this one close.
Casey Jones needs to get going again as well. He played pretty well against Wisconsin, and there is no reason to think he can't succeed in this one as well. Rico White also was hot against the Badgers. It would be nice if he continued that hot streak on this road trip.
Remember last year's blowout loss to UCLA? Remember how it was immediately preceded by a crushing loss to Nevada? That just goes to show that sometimes when a team plays twice in three days against decent competition, one can be a blowout and the other close. The Mocs have played close in games like this early in the year in the past. They nearly beat Kansas at Kansas two years ago and almost had Nevada last year. I think this game may be closer than Butler fans are expecting. The Mocs are probably not quite as good as Butler and the Bulldogs will pull away in the end. But the Mocs will hang around all night. Bulldogs 73, Mocs 62.