Posted on: March 31, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 8:23 pm

Meet the Butler Bulldogs, America's team

Thomas Beisner

Depending on who you talk to, the Butler Bulldogs are either the greatest made-for-the-movie-screen-again story of our lives or the most false Cinderella team of all-time.  As is the case with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  But, we're not really into all that honesty and truthfullness here at "One Blogging Moment".  We like to exploit things to their fullest potential, which is why I proudly declare the Butler Bulldogs to be "America's Team".  If you don't like them, you're a terrorist.  And, even worse, if you don't read this post and get to know them, you might as well be taking a massive dump on a special edition Hoosiers Blu-ray.  And you know Gene Hackman doesn't deserve that.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Butler Bulldogs!

#5 Ronald Nored, 6-0, G, Sophomore

2009-10 stats: 6.0 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 spg, 41% from the field, 18% from three

Nored, a starter at the point since the day he first stepped on campus (along with classmates Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward), improved steadily in each statistical category as a sophomore, though no improvement was more important than his assist-to-turnover ratio, which jumped to 1.82. Unforunately, that is also his three-point percentage (with a decimal moved, of course). But, despite his scoring deficiencies, Brad Stevens counts on his sophomore floor general greatly, playing him in 145 of 160 minutes this tournament. Nored has rewarded his coach with outstanding defense (3.0 spg for the Horizon League co-Defensive Player of the Year) and clutch play (four points and two steals in the final minute against Kansas State). These post-season heroics also make Stevens hopeful that Nored finally has his legs back under him after spending December tracking Santa.

#1 Shelvin Mack, 6-3, G, Sophomore

2009-10 stats: 14.2 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 spg 45% from field, 39% from three

Mack, another member of the Bulldogs’ special class of 2008, comes from a town called Lexington, which I believe has a fairly prominent basketball team, and also stormed onto the scene last year as a freshman, averaging 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists while starting all 32 games. Mack followed up that breakout season by joining Gordon Hayward on the gold medal-winning U19 Team USA over the summer. This season, Mack has again been the rock in Butler’s backcourt and the guy who got the magic rolling this tournament with 18 second-half points against UTEP propelling them to a comeback win. If you didn’t get familiar with his mom last weekend (get your mind out of the gutter), you’ll get to know her this weekend. She’s Shelvin’s #1 cheerleader and she bleeds that Butler blue.

#21 Willie Veasley, 6-3, F, Junior

2009-10 stats: 10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 50% from the field, 47

The lone senior in the Bulldog lineup, Veasley does all the elderly things you’d expect. He plays defense and shoots efficiently from the field, though his first injury-free season since his freshman year has him avoiding that Bengay smell. Brad Stevens calls him the Bulldogs’ Shane Battier, which, given Veasley’s smooth head (get your mind out of the gutter) and his placement on the Horizon League All-Defensive team, is a mighty fine compliment. His first name is also a slang term for...umm...well, you know.

#20 Gordon Hayward, 6-9, F, Sophomore

2009-10 stats: 15.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 47% from the field, 30% from three

If Butler was N’ Sync, then Hayward would be their Timberlake. His baby face has been plastered on every television station for two weeks now and he’s gotten so much publicity, even my wife knows that he struggled with his three-point shot all season. Hayward won Horizon Player of the Year, played for Team USA, projects as a first-round pick and, like Timberlake, did not sleep with Britney Spears. Or at least I assume that he didn't.  I've learned not to doubt the Gordonator.  You’ll see a lot of Gordon Hayward’s face again this weekend. Just make sure that if you’re watching in HD, you keep an eye out for any sprouting hairs. He’s in a race with Coach Brad Stevens.


#54 Matt Howard, 6-8, F, Junior

2009-10 stats: 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg

The First Team All-Horizon League center is unquestionably my favorite player left in the entire tournament. Howard is a step too slow it seems and often appears to jump barely high enough for his laces to stop touching the court. But, he goes after people, fouls be damned, and mixes it up inside, exemplifying every white basketball player cliché nearly every time he steps on the court. Plus, he wears a t-shirt and has willingly taken a backseat for the betterment of the team after winning Horizon League Player of the Year last year. They even have “Matt Howard Day” back in Connersville, Indiana. Matt Howard, I love you. Facebook me.


Zach Hahn: Zach Hoff. Zach Hahn. Zach Hoff. Zach Hahn.  Zach Hoff.  Butler’s sixth man scored a team-high 13 in season opening win over Drake.

Shawn Vanzant: Last name should be two words. Averages 2 points off the bench and plans to live off of his royalties from “End of the Road” forever.

Avery Jukes: And Avery Scores - to the tune of, 2.7 ppg to be exact.

Asst. Coach Darnell Archey: Darnell Freakin’ Archey!  You can't say his name without getting excited!  Even his official bio has an exclamation point!

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 31, 2010 2:29 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 3:07 pm

Hard to Get Excited About this Bunch


I am trying to talk myself into this Final Four, I really am.  I look at the field and see the loveable underdog (Butler), the mighty unlikeable power (Duke), the coach looking to break through (West Virginia) and the consistent, “How Do They Do It?” performer (Michigan State).  In theory that looks like a good bunch and would seem like a group I could rally behind.  But I am just not feeling it and I must admit I am a bit depressed.

See this was to be the Tournament when the stars came out and we got to see the best of the best .  The Midwest Region had Kansas and its pack of old school veterans and new school talent.  I was certain they would win their second title in three years and we would all have to accept that Bill Self is more “NCAA Champion” than “loser to Bradley and Bucknell.”  And if Kansas fell, it had to be Ohio State and Evan Turner, right?  He is so good AND he wears braces, a combination that almost surely is deserving of a Final Four.

And then in the West, old Jimmy Boeheim was going to be there, that much was certain.  Wesley Johnson was going to do his thing on a national stage and we were all going to be able to see the power of a perfectly executed zone.  And if for some strange reason, the Orange fell, well then Kansas State and their manic coach would be there to entertain and potentially scare us.  Throw in the fact they have a player with an Amish beard, and the excitement would have been at a fever pitch.

Then there was Kentucky.  You KNEW Kentucky was going to be there .  It was certain.  John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, John Calipari….it was a murderer’s row of storylines.    The Cats were the most talented team in America and had at least four future NBA Lottery picks on the roster.  There is no way that team doesn’t make the Final Four and dazzle us with at least a few amazing fast breaks and gravity-defying dunks.  There was no way that group could lose, could they?

Well they all lost, and some of them in brutal fashion.  And now we are left with four teams, none of which is really good enough to be the National Champion.   Yeah I said it.  None of these teams are very good.   In fact, if I were to have ranked the teams in terms of national championship worthiness going into the Tournament, only two of the teams in the Final Four would have even been in the Top 10, and West Virginia would have been highest at #5.  Now one of them will join Arizona in 1997 and Florida in 2006 as the only champions of the 1990s that were not among the four best teams in the country (for the record, my four this year were Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Ohio State…in that order). 

Look I love the scrappy underdog.  And if Butler becomes the most unlikely champ in NCAA history, then I will cheer.  But we know that will not happen.  Instead, we will likely either see a flawed West Virginia team or a mediocre Duke bunch with a gift-wrapped path to the Final Four, cut down the nets.  And that is fine I guess, but it doesn’t appeal to my sensibilities.  I either want to see greatness rewarded, or true “out of nowhere” underdogs capture the nation and produce a champion to remember for eternity.  None of these teams fit that bill.

So I guess I will root for Michigan State.  Tom Izzo has 6 Final Fours in 12 years and that record is beyond impressive.  And even though this bunch is one of the worst teams of the group, he is a great coach who deserves the second title that elevates him into the discussion as of the all-time best to roam the sidelines.  While this particular group doesn’t really deserve the title, he does for his overall resume of work.  So I will take Izzo and root for Sparty this weekend.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Posted on: March 30, 2010 5:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 5:33 pm

Official Guide to Final Four Gambling


For the four remaining teams in the NCAA tournament, the Final Four weekend is a battle of skill, coaching, execution, heart, intensity, and determination for the grand prize of being named college basketball's top team.  61 teams have already fallen on this grueling journey.  It is an opportunity of a lifetime and only the strongest will survive.

But for millions of people outside of the four remaining teams, the Final Four is one of the biggest gambling weekends of the year and even more is at stake.  Jobs will be lost, marriages will end, family heirlooms will be pawned, and households and legs could be broken all over just a few bad gambling decisions.  For some, it is a life changing opportunity and only the strong - well, lucky - will drive off in that new car, pay this month's rent, or put their children through community college.

Will you be one of the successful or one of the poor?

I can help you through your gambling decision process.  And by help you, I mean do not take anything I say seriously.  I will not be held responsible for your severed right index finger - bookies and cigar cutters are a dangerous duo.  I will, however, suggest that you see a doctor about that.  You're losing a lot of blood.  On to the gambling... 


Butler (+350)
Duke  (+120)
Michigan State  (+450)
West Virginia  (+225)


Line: Butler (-1.5)

O/U:  126

Ken Pom Predicts:  Butler 64-62

Prop Bets:

--- Gordon Hayward Total Points:  O/U 21

--- Durrell Summers Points + Rebs:  O/U 23.5

--- Butler drove six miles to Indy references:  O/U  193.5

--- Ivan Brothers commercials:  O/U 97

--- Where the hell is Mateen Cleaves?:  Turkey (-120), France (-300), Detroit, owner of All Varsity Entertainment Records (+700)

"OBM" PREDICTION:  Michigan State +1.5 - Never bet against Tom Izzo.  Ever. 


Line: Duke (-3)

O/U:  131

Ken Pom Predicts:  Duke 67-62

Prop Bets:

--- Da'Sean Butler Total Points:  O/U 17.5

--- Jon Scheyer Points + Assists:  O/U 22

--- Bob Huggins outfit:  Sweatsuit (-800), Mock Turtleneck (-600), Fully Nude (+1500)

--- Mickie Krzyzewski TV sightings:  O/U 11.5

--- Natty Lights consumed by Kevin Pittsnogle:  O/U 24

--- Couches burned in Morgantown:  O/U .5

"OBM" PREDICTION:  West Virginia +3 - It's the year of the Huggy Bear.
Posted on: March 30, 2010 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 2:47 pm

Welcome to the Party


And then there were four. Four teams from a field of sixty-four (sixty-five counting Winthrop), each having braved the bullets meant for them and emerged a contender for the national championship. Over the past two weeks we've grown to know and follow teams we may have, in some cases, had precious little exposure to before (I'm looking at you, Saint Mary's) or grown more respect toward (nice going, Cornell). But the four that matter now are the Final Four. It's their party from here on out, so let's get to know 'em.


"The Resourceful One"

Michigan State is that friend who saves one-fourth of a meatball sub to eat two hours from now. He's the one who can figure out how to get beer. He's the guy who always has a plan -- and he can get himself out of a squeeze simply by being practical. When things get tough, count on Michigan State to come through just by being smart -- like that time he figured out how to get front row Widespread Panic tickets the day before the show by calling his cousin whose friend was a college radio DJ who knew the band's promoter. He's good people to know and always cool under pressure.

Why Michigan State will win: They'll size up the situation, tweak accordingly, and find a way to get things done.

Why Michigan State won't win: By overthinking things, sometimes the big picture gets lost. Plus, there's that ruptured achilles tendon.


"The Pretty Boy"

Duke's got it all. He's cool. He's charming. He's got great parents. He's been raised well. And he's all the ladies can talk about. Everything seems to go well for him, especially when things look bleak. He's just that kind of guy. His perfectly coiffed hair and dashing good looks make him a favorite of many, though when things aren't going well for him he's quick to complain about it. Good thing, then, that things perpetually seem to go his way.

Why Duke will win: They're arguably the strongest team left, and they haven't even really had a scare yet. They're a tournament team and have a huge shot at the title. 

Why Duke won't win: When the cops bust the party, Duke calls dad and then tells on everybody.


"The Quiet Type"

No one ever expects Butler to show up. He always says he's going to, but at the last second goes home instead. Everyone likes Butler, but no one really knows him all that well. He doesn't normally run with this kind of crowd, but fits in well. He keeps a low profile, but get him going and he's the life of the party. He's fun while he's there, but you never know how long he's going to stay, and he's never been to a party this big before. He's either going to flame out with the cool kids or make a lot of new friends.

Why Butler will win: As Butler stays modest and says very little, few realize how much they're capable of accomplishing.

Why Butler won't win: More experienced partiers could drink them under the table.


"Hellz Yeah!"

West Virginia told you it would be here, but you didn't think that slacker could get its act together and get motivated. Now you're eating your words, because West Virginia -- who you really only know in passing because he hangs out in auto shop class all day -- is showing up and he's ready to par-tay. He's a wildchild: funny, unpredictable and probably going to get into a fight before the night's over. Having him at the party makes everyone a little nervous, but he seems alright. For now.

Why West Virginia will win: Things seem to be aligned for them and they're stone cold rollin'.

Why West Virginia won't win: They could go nuts, flame out and lose it. They also won't stop requesting John Denver songs.

Posted on: March 25, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 3:49 pm

Syracuse vs. Butler - Five Random Thoughts

Before they tipoff tonight at approximately 7:07 pm, I'd like to share with you my five random thoughts on the Syracuse-Butler game:

Watch the tempo of the game.  Butler will try to slow it down, Syracuse will want to run a fast paced game.  Butler gives up just under 60 points per game while Syracuse likes to score in the 80s.  Whoever controls the tempo will likely win the game.

Wesley Johnson vs. Gordon Hayward.  In order for their teams to win, these guys will need to have a big game.  If Wesley Johnson puts on a show, Syracuse will most likely win no matter how Hayward plays.  But if Johnson can't get it going, and Hayward has a strong performance, look out for an upset.

Arinze Onuaku is out again.  The status of Onuaku's injury is no longer a question of how long he will be out, but if he'll ever return.  Coming into the tournament, the report was that we might see him in the first weekend.  Now, Onuaku is out for the Sweet 16 game and no real timetable has been set for his return.  The reserves have played well filling in for the senior center, but if Syracuse is going to win it all, I don't see them doing it without the big man.

Leo Rautins will be on TV.  Nothing has changed.  He will get more camera time than Juli Boeheim.

Eric Devendorf isn't walking through that door.  It may just be me, but every time I watch a Syracuse game, I expect to see Eric Devendorf hitting a three and taunting an opponent.  I still haven't accepted the fact that he's gone.  Watching a Syracuse game without Devendorf is like watching E.R. after George Clooney left.  The show is still the same, but the face is gone.

That's all.  Enjoy the game.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler, Syracuse, West
Posted on: March 18, 2010 7:51 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 7:55 pm

Mack leads Butler to victory


Butler won?  So Gordon Hayward had a big game, right?

Nope.  Hayward went 2-8 from the field and 0-6 from downtown.

Oh. So Matt Howard dominated the paint?

Not quite.  Two words:  Shelvin. Mack.

Mack hit a career high seven three-pointers and scored 18 of his game high 25 points after the break.  Butler trailed by six at halftime but came out and dominated UTEP in the second half.  

Through my source, Mark Morrison, I was able to obtain a transcript from Mack's halftime speech that supposedly fired up the Bulldogs:

So, I'm back up in the game 
Running things like half my swing 
Lettin' all the people know 
That I'm back to run the show 
'Cause what you did you know was wrong 
And all the nasty things you've done 
So, baby, listen carefully 
While I sing my comeback song

... Now that is some powerful stuff.

On the other side, Derrick Caracter had the game he needed to give UTEP a chance but the Miners still couldn't get the win.  Caracter and his mohawk scored 20 points on 10-13 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss.

Butler advances to face a dangerous Murray State team in the second round.  Will we see a return of the Mack?

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler
Posted on: March 9, 2010 5:19 pm

Can the Butler Do It...and Other Events Tonight


5:30 PM

Did you skip work to watch the First Round of the Big East Tournament like I told you to?  No?  Well shame on you because you missed South Florida beating Depaul and UCONN quitting to a degree that would have embarassed even Rudy Guiliani's Presidential campaign staff.  It was the embodiment of mediocrity in New York and if you didnt watch it, you will regret it for at least the next couple of minutes.

But tonight is your chance to redeem yourself as we have THREE BIG CONFERENCE FINALS for tickets 10-12 to the NCAA Tournament.  A quick rundown:

HORIZON LEAGUE:  Butler vs Wright State  9 pm

Every year I have a hard time evaluating Butler.  Their conference record is generally great and their coach looks like he hopped right out of a 1980s John Hughes movie (speaking of which, did you see MaCauley Culkin at the Oscars? Between he and Forrest Whitaker, it was if we had the Emaciated All Stars of 2010 on stage).  But it is always hard to know whether they are just feasting on Horizon League competition, or are actually ready to make March noise.  This year I am a believer.  Between leading scorer Gordon Hayward and Lexington, Kentucky native Shelvin Mack, the team has firepower at the right positions and the athleticisim to compete with the top teams.  Tonight they play on their home court against Wright State for the Horizon title and the chance to enter the NCAA Tournament in the Top 10.  If you are a bubble team, you are pulling for Butler.  A Wright State win would be a HUGE upset.

SUN BELT CONFERENCE:  Troy vs North Texas  7 pm

This game sounds like it should be a football championship game, but in a movie starring Scott Bakula and Kathy Ireland.  But it is basketball and for the first time in a few years, Western Kentucky is not the dominant force in the Sun Belt and two other teams have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament.  The top two seeds in the tournament will play in a place called "Hot Springs, Arkansas", which again doesnt seem real but would likely be in a novel of historical fiction about Bill Clinton's run for President.  I will probably not watch this game and if you do, you are a better person than I am.  But that doesnt mean that everyone involved are not great people.


I will however watch the Summit Conference final for three reasons.  First, Oakland is a very good team, led by Keith Benson, the Conference Player of the Year and a kid who has a chance to be picked in the NBA Draft in the future.  Second, the only team to beat Oakland this year in conference is IUPUI, who won at Oakland 85-82, led by the two leading scorers in the league, Robert Glenn and Alex Young.  And then finally, everything about the Summit is fascinating to me.  They have a school called "Oakland" that is actually in Michigan, a school pronounced "OOH-EEE, POO-EEE" that is a regular contender and for reasons no one understands, the games are being held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  If a conference was ever to be considered wacky, it is the Summit.

So there you go, your night primer.  We also have opening round games in the Big East and Atlantic 10 and the potential for other random occurrences.  Stick here on "One Blogging Moment" and we will bring them all to you, unless "Lost" is really good, at which point we might miss some of them. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com