Blog Entry

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

Posted on: July 6, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 11:47 am
By Matt Norlander

The two most endearing, identifiable non-BCS programs in college basketball have finally agreed to a home-and-home.

And this is no scheduling tweak that causes fans to wait more than a year; Butler and Gonzaga will play each other this upcoming season and the next. This year's game will be played Dec. 20.

It is great news for the sport. From the inaugural Champions Classic, to the Veterans Day game on the aircraft carrier that disposed of bin Laden's body, to the always-exciting Maui Invitational and so much more, the first six weeks college basketball's regular season has gotten better and better. This announcement is sweet, delicious icing.

These kinds of makes-so-much-sense-it-should-have-
happened-sooner matchups give the early-season slate more lubrication. There's an inflated sense of importance, urgency and intrigue. Gonzaga and Butler may not have a lot of identifiable players next year, but that doesn't much matter. They'll both still be very solid teams, and the front of the jersey sells.

And everyone knows Mark Few and Brad Stevens. Two of the nicest coaches in the game who've done it right and stand to be pillars of the sport for the next two decades. It's Butler and Gonzaga. No two other teams from non-BCS schools could draw a television rating like this. Most intra-BCS games couldn't either. So my only question is -- why make this only a home-and-home? Add another, annual layer to the college basketball season by scheduling this game each season, you two schools.

This game could have implications come seeding time as well, as both programs are now regularly scheduling themselves into tough games out of conference. Since this game comes near the end of non-conference play, we'll have a formed idea not of what these teams are, but what they can be. Late-December games are tricky, though, as Christmastime can cloak a club's identity and potential.

Some speculation/backstory on how this came to be ... Gonzaga clearly postponed its series with Memphis in an attempt to make this short-term duel with Butler possible.  The school won't directly admit that, but that seems to be what's at play here. Gonzaga had been thumped by the Tigers, going 1-5 the past six seasons. But it all worked out well for everyone involved, because Memphis picked up the other big non-BCS school with national appeal: Xavier. It's a good trade-off.

As the photo indicates, the teams have played before -- just once. Butler beat the Zags, 79-71, in 2006 at the NIT Season Tipoff.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2011 3:29 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

Battle for the Bone?    See which Dog can hunt?  Running of the Bulldogs?   A great matchup like this needs a good ESPN ready name.   Congrats to both schools for having the guts to make this game happen. 

Since: Oct 25, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2011 2:37 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

This series is great for the game for sure. I'm a Louisville fan, but I try not to have the BE superiority complex. We spent many years outside the big 6, and I would be a hypocrite to forget where we came from. I remember games like this for UL in C-USA, early or not, they have supreme importance for these teams' tourney seeding, which makes it that more exciting. And yes, MotownTitan, not only are the Bulldogs definitely gonna win, they're gonna cover the spread. I already put $1000 on it in Vegas!!

On a side note, are there any Butler fans who know if Louisville is coming to Hinkle this year? I know we have a return game, but not sure if it's this year or next year.

Since: Nov 22, 2009
Posted on: July 7, 2011 2:22 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

dogfight02- You don't seem to get the joke- They are both Bulldogs! Cool

Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2011 11:10 am

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

Bulldogs are going to roll!

Unlikely. I'm a Butler fan over Gonzaga, but let's be honest with ourselves. Gonzaga has been putting together winning seasons for the last two decades, quite a bit longer than Butler. Sure the Bulldogs have put up some crazy good seasons, going all the way to the champioinship, but lets not kid ourselves. Gonzaga is going to be able to pull in better talent due to their long line of winning seasons. They have more experience and a stronger foundation. Butler is on its way, but not quite there yet.

Since: Jul 7, 2011
Posted on: July 7, 2011 9:13 am

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

Endearing? These are basketball teams, not puppies. I don't think you would call Duke or UNC endearing.

Since: Jun 9, 2011
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:25 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

This should be a good series.

Since: Feb 24, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2011 9:38 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

What does the line "two coaches that did it right mean?"

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2011 2:30 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

These two teams have proven year in and year out that they can compete with anyone.  Both programs have proven this for better than a decade.  I would never consider either of these teams beating any team in the country as an upset.  Any top 10 team that beats another top ten team is not an upset and both of these teams have spent a lot of time in the top ten and twenty of the polls for a long time. 

Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2011 2:12 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

Tigahawk, sounds like you have some type of a chip on your shoulder,  you read this article and came up with the conclusion that he had a racial meaning behind this.  Also, just because Memphis has a large fan base doesn't automatically make them a better draw.  its who the rest of the country wants to see and they can identify with Butler and gonzaga because they are considered cinderellas when they make a run through the tournament.  When Memphis has a good team and makes a run,  you never hear about them being referred to as a  cinderella.  Memphis in reality probably belongs in a BCS conference when it comes to basketball.    

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:57 pm

Gonzaga and Butler agree to two-year series

This should make for some good games.  I still prefer seeing them play BCS type schools though and I hope this does not make for taking away a BCS opponent. 

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