Will the 'Butler Way' work in the Atlantic 10?
No basketball school should ever choose to be in a one-bid league. So the invitation had to be accepted when extended. Let me make that clear. But whether Butler's move from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 will actually benefit the Bulldogs on the court remains an interesting question, and I'm not sure there's a clear answer.
Yes, Butler will now be on TV more regularly, and the Bulldogs won't have to win their conference tournament to ensure a spot in the NCAA tournament because the Atlantic 10 can consistently get four bids like it got four bids this season. Those are good things and why Brad Stevens should be excited. This is a nice day for one of the sport's stars.
But will the 2013-14 season be a nice season?
And what about the one after that?
And after that?
And after that?
Gun to head, I think Butler will be fine because Stevens is too good to be bad. But there's no denying the Bulldogs' world is changing. Recruiting must improve. Facilities should be upgraded. If those things don't happen, America's most beloved college basketball program could find itself in waters that are a little too deep because the A-10 is a significant step up in competion, and because the next Gordon Hayward or Shelvin Mack -- i.e., two pros who weren't projected as pros out of high school -- isn't the easiest thing to find.
Again, bet on Butler if you're betting.
Don't take this the wrong way.
But the only thing we know for certain is that the Butler Way works in the Horizon League and in single-elimination tournaments when the Bulldogs have one or two future NBA players. That's been the formula. Whether it'll translate to the Atlantic 10 shall be determined.
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