Posted on: December 23, 2008 11:25 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2008 11:43 pm

Butler 10-1 for second consecutive season

You know what's tougher than beating Xavier in Cincinnati?

Getting out of Cincinnati after beating Xavier.

"I'm just trying to navigate through this weather," Butler coach Brad Stevens said by phone, from the cold and rainy streets of Cincinnati, after his Bulldogs beat 14th-ranked Xavier 74-65 on Tuesday night. "It's nasty up here."

Portland State's win at No. 7 Gonzaga took a little of the spotlight off Butler, but the reality is this: The Bulldogs are now 10-1 with the lone loss coming at 15th-ranked Ohio State, and because they don't play again until Dec. 30 they will almost certainly be ranked in next Monday's AP poll, which will be quite an accomplishment for a team that lost five of the top seven scorers from a 30-win team and was picked fifth in the Horizon League.

Did you get that?

This team was picked fifth in the Horizon League.

But the Bulldogs got a win over Horizon favorite Cleveland State in early December, and now they have this signature non-league victory to go with it. So the obvious question for Stevens late Tuesday was how? How is this second-year coach off to another 10-1 start despite a totally different roster?

"It's not me," Stevens said, but I'm not sure I believe him, because I watch a lot of college basketball and tear through tons of rosters, and I know what usually happens when a 30-win team loses five of its top seven scorers. Rather, I know what doesn't usually happen, and what doesn't usually happen are 10-1 starts featuring road wins over top 15 teams, and if you don't believe me call Bill Self, John Calipari or Ben Howland and ask them if they'd take 10-1 with a road win over a top 15 opponent.

Betcha they'd all say yes. So that should prove that what Stevens is doing is both unique and impressive, and that he's doing it while starting three freshmen around a better-than-the-nation-realizes sophomore named Matt Howard borders on unbelievable.

"We've got good, mature guys, even though they're young," Stevens said. "Even the young guys who have never been here before always prioritize team above self, and that's given us a chance to start off well."

No argument here.

But take some credit yourself, Brad.

Because back-to-back 10-1 starts with totally different rosters is not something anybody could do.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 16, 2008 9:54 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2008 6:49 pm

More Butler information (though I'm now at IU)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- I finished at Butler and made the drive south to Assembly Hall, where I'm now soaking up an atmosphere that is awkward by any standards. Yes, Kelvin Sampson was booed during introductions. He looked like a man who knows the end is near, but that's not why I'm writing.

I'll get to Sampson in a column to come later.

What I wanted to tell you now is that while researching my Butler column -- click this link to check it out -- I learned there are only six Top 25 teams that have a higher winning percentage against Top 100 opponents than Butler. I listed the teams in the column, but didn't provide the statistics. So if you're interested, here are the statistics ...

  • 12-0 against the Top 100 (100 percent) with zero losses total.
  • 14-1 against the Top 100 (93.3 percent) with no additional losses.
North Carolina
  • 16-2 against the Top 100 (88.9 percent) with no additional losses.
  • 12-2 against the Top 100 (85.7 percent) with no additional losses.
  • 10-2 against the Top 100 (83.3 percent) with no additional losses.
  • 10-2 against the Top 100 (83.3 percent) with one additional loss.
  • 6-2 against the Top 100 (75.0 percent) with no additional losses.
Late breaking RPI update: Bradley beat Creighton on Saturday and pushed its RPI from 105 to 98. That development means Drake's win over Bradley last month is now a Top 100 win (for the time being), meaning Drake is now 7-2 against the Top 100 (with no additional losses), meaning Drake has now won 77.8 percent of its games against Top 100 opponents, meaning at this moment there are actually seven schools with a higher winning percentage against Top 100 opponents than Butler.

But whatever.

The point remains the same.

And now I'm gonna get back to watching Kelvin Sampson.

Late breaking RPI update (Part II):  Bradley's RPI shot to 103 this morning. So now Drake and Butler are both 6-2 against the Top 100. Meantime, Saint Mary's is now 7-2 against the Top 100 (because Fullerton rose to No. 95 this morning), which means I'm finally gonna have to give in tonight and rank Saint Mary's in the Top 25 (and one). Can't justify believing in Butler based on this statistic if I don't also believe in Saint Mary's, can I?
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler
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