NEW ORLEANS -- A year ago, Butler played the early game on Saturday in the Elite Eight, making every possession count in a victory over Kansas State. The location may have moved, but the details remain the same, down to Gus Johnson and Len Elmore calling the regional final. A No. 2 seed awaits the Bulldogs once again, with Florida and Butler meeting in Saturday's first game (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) for right to go to the Final Four.
Butler and Florida have NCAA Tournament history. A buzzer-beater in 2000 propelled the Gators to the title game, while the Bulldogs gave the eventual national champion Gators a run for their money in the 2007 regional semifinal. Despite the losses, those games helped shaped the Butler basketball program. These Butler players remember those games and have seen the tapes.
The last time a team from a non-BCS conference went to consecutive Final Fours: UNLV in 1990 and 1991. It is Butler who has the Tournament experience compared with this Florida squad.
This year's Butler is Butler, says Ashley Adamson. The Bulldogs have repeatedly proven they belong among the elite; Brad Stevens has helped turn Butler into a top job.
Both Butler and Florida scuffled at times this season, but in the midst of the year, Brad Stevens reached out to Billy Donovan, looking for answers and advice on how to handle coming off a run to the national championship game. Florida refuses to call Butler a Cinderella story. That monicker slipped off the Dawgs long ago. No longer are the Bulldogs looking up at any other mid-majors.
Matt Howard is the heartbeat of the Bulldogs, says the New York Times. Rick Reilly had some fun during yesterday's media sessions with Howard.
Andrew Smith will play on Saturday after turning an ankle - Butler hopes Smith plays like Pete Campbell did after doing the same in 2008. The 2008 recruiting class that preceeded Smith has played a valuable role in this tournament run.
When Butler's season comes to an end, Ronald Nored will return to coaching a local AAU Team.
Some believe it's a matter of when, not if, Brad Stevens will leave Butler. Others see the coach as content and in the right place in Indianapolis.
Butler's Blue II celebrated his birthday in Indianapolis yesterday and is just one victory from returning to the Final Four.
Tags: Butler - Men's Basketball · Horizon League - Men's Basketball