2016 NCAA tournament team previews: Butler Bulldogs
As part of its preview of the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense statistics are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All other advanced stats are also from kenpom.com (unless noted otherwise), and are through March 14.
Record: 21–10 (10–8 Big East)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 115.6 (19th), 101.8 (131st)
Seed: Midwest No. 9
Impact Player: Roosevelt Jones, senior forward, 14 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.7 apg
The Case For: This team feels a little bit like the Butler squads that went to back-to-back NCAA tournament championship games in 2010 and ’11: An experienced group of hard-working and selfless go-getters with something to prove. Seniors Jones and Kellen Dunham were still in high school when Gordon Heyward led Brad Stevens’s Bulldogs on those incredible runs—not only to the finals two years straight, but also firmly out of the mid-major and Cinderella labels—but the elder statesmen for this year’s group embody the same DNA.
Dunham leads the team with over 16.3 ppg and shoots 42.8% from behind the arc, while Jones is a major stat-stuffer who shoots 48.0% from the field. Sophomore forward Kelan Martin has been a revelation this year as well, contributing 16.1 ppg on 43.5% shooting for a team ranked No. 19 in adjusted efficiency. Oh, and for what it’s worth, that 2011 Butler team: A No. 8 seed.
The Case Against: Butler had a plethora of chances to beat good teams this season, and more often than not, it failed. A win over in-state rival Purdue notwithstanding, the Bulldogs dropped games to Miami, Providence (three times), Xavier (twice) and Villanova (twice), all examples of the caliber of teams Butler will be facing in the tournament. If it survives upstart Texas Tech, a likely matchup with No. 1 Virginia looms, a team more than capable of handling Butler’s offense. And if that offense struggles like it has at various times this season, then the Bulldogs are all but done. They rank 131st in adjusted defensive efficiency and lack the ability to get crucial stops when they need them.
SI Prediction: Beat Texas Tech in the first round; lose Virginia in the second round