The Butler Bulldogs smell a National Championship, you can see it in their poise and you can see it in their execution down the stretch, they believe this is their year.
Brad Stevens knows his team has more than a fighting chance against the UCONN Huskies, but he also knows that Kemba Walker can win a game by himself. Pay too much attention to Kemba and Jeremy Lamb will light you up. Lamb came into the Final Four shooting 70 percent from 3 point land and has blossomed into one the best looking young swingman in the country. Right now, UCONN at 14-0 in tournament play this year, must be feeling like they just can’t lose. The Huskies looked loose on Sunday Night against Kentucky, no, loose isn’t the word, they looked confident that no one could stop them.
For the Butler faithful in nap town, the fact that Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb didn’t have to go off for the Huskies to beat a game Kentucky team, has to be worrisome.
Butler will defend, that is what they do, their half-court defence and their transition defence is arguably the best in college basketball. They don’t take stupid fouls and they defend the three and they also have Shelvin Mack who can also take over a game by himself.
But which team is deeper? At this point, you would have to give the nod to Butler, the Bulldogs received significant contributions from their bench against VCU and throughout the tournament.
Can Butler keep UCONN’s bigs off the glass? If there’s one thing that can turn the tide, it will be UCONN’s ability to grab offensive boards, they will have a size advantage on Butler and they are an aggressive offensive rebounding team. However, Butler has faced similar circumstances against Florida and yet found a way to win.
It should be noted that Butler’s guards, particularly Nored and Vanzant are excellent rebounders, and that’s how they have been combating any size disparities.
Butler will be able to control tempo, but they will find that UCONN is comfortable playing a half court-slow tempo game because they have players that can create their own shots, well they have Kemba. UCONN also doesn’t live and die by the three, unlike a number of Butler’s last opponents.
It will be a different look for Butler, the past few games they’ve earned and advantage in slowing the tempo, but they lose it now, as they’ll be facing a team that is as comfortable in a slow tempo game as they are.
My take, I feel that if Butler is going to stop the hottest team in college basketball, if they are to win this game, Shelvin Mack has to have the game of his career.
All that said, I still can’t bet against Butler, they punished me for that for the last two years now.