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2016 NCAA tournament preview: Butler Bulldogs

Butler Bulldogs

Record: 22-10 (10-8 Big East)

Head Coach: Chris Holtman (2nd season)

Season Recap: The Cinderella team of past seasons, Butler performed admirably in the early portion of its season—losing just once in nonconference play. Outside of a neutral-site loss to Miami in Puerto Rico, the Bulldogs picked up a number of strong wins, including a road win at Cincinnati and a home victory against Purdue. Credit in many of these wins goes to Butler's attacking offense—one that averaged more 80 points per game for the year and ranked 19th in basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency metric.

Moving into the Big East, though, brought out a different side of the Bulldogs. Including its latest defeat in the conference tournament, Butler finished just a hair better than .500 and managed to go just 2-7 against the top four teams in its league. The Bulldogs' offense declined throughout the season—averaging just 75.6 points per game in the Big East—showing the vulnerability of a team that started out hot. 

Still, senior guard Kellen Dunham shot 42.8 percent from beyond the arc and redshirt senior forward Roosevelt Jones notched 14.0 points per game to go along with 6.6 rebounds per contest. Even in the absence of former head coach Brad Stevens—who left Indianapolis for the NBA's Boston Celtics two seasons ago—Butler has the senior leadership and the offense to compete in March.

How they make a run: The Bulldogs slip past Texas Tech in the first round, and knock off top-seeded Virginia to get to the second weekend of the tournament as their stellar offense re-emerges and proves too much for Malcolm Brogdon and the Cavaliers' pressure defense.

How they falter: Butler's offense from the Big East shows up as the team fails to post at least 70 points for the ninth time this season and the Bulldogs drop to 1-8 in those games.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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