Blog Entry

Butler is the new Michigan State

Posted on: March 25, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 1:32 am

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Over the past decade, Michigan State consistently made deep runs in the NCAA tournament despite entering the Big Dance as a five-seed or lower multiple times.

Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are never written off, no matter how poorly they are playing heading into the NCAA tournament.

If the past two seasons are any indication, we might have a new Michigan State: Butler.

As a No. 5 seed, it went to the title game. As a No. 8 seed, it’s one step away from a return trip to the Final Four.

With Brad Stevens at the helm, this team is built for March. The Bulldogs defend as well as anyone in country, and they are constantly underrated on the offensive end.

This season, Butler stumbled through the first three months of the season before finishing on a tear and getting into the NCAA tournament as an eight seed. No one doubted the Bulldogs in the Horizon League tournament despite needing to beat Milwaukee – a team Butler had lost to twice already – on the road in the title game.

Once they get into the tournament, the Bulldogs are a battle-tested group that knows how to win when it counts. In the second round, they beat Old Dominion on a lay-up at the buzzer by Matt Howard. Against Pittsburgh in the memorable round of 32 contest, Butler took the lead on a perfectly-designed play by Stevens and then edged out a win after a game-winning free throw by Matt Howard.

On Thursday, the Bulldogs held Wisconsin to 54 points, including just three points in the first nine minutes of the second half. The nation’s second-most efficient offense shot 30.4 percent from the field and 24.1 percent from 3-point range, turning the ball over 11 times. Point guard Jordan Taylor, who came into the game with 38 turnovers in 33 games, gave up the ball four times against Butler’s stingy defense.

Butler's last seven NCAA tournament wins have come by a combined 25 points – the Bulldogs know how to make plays down the stretch. It doesn’t matter that they struggled to beat good teams during the regular season; the Big Dance is a clean slate for everyone.

And when two teams head into games with a clean slate, Butler has an advantage. Stevens is one of the best coaches in the country, the Bulldogs always execute well offensively and defend their tails off at the other end. The stars may change, but the system doesn’t.

Butler knows how to win in March -- even if it struggles in January or February.

Sounds just like one particular Big Ten power. Maybe Butler's Final Four win over Michigan State last year was more than just another national semifinal win.

Maybe it was a passing of the torch.

Photo: US Presswire

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Since: Feb 8, 2011
Posted on: March 27, 2011 12:56 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

Who cares? Butler got reeeaaallyy lucky this year. Why couldnt Matt Howard play this good in the Championship game last year, he missed 5-6 EASY layups.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: March 27, 2011 11:04 am

Butler is the new Michigan State

Wisconsin lost...............................


Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: March 26, 2011 5:39 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

The way this article is written, it sounds like Michigan State is down and out.  MSU has made 6 Final Fours in the last 12 years, with 3 completely different rosters (99/00/01, 05, 09/10).  Butler has been good for that same time period, but up until the last 2 seasons, "good" has meant making the NCAA tournament - something MSU did in a season that we up in EL are considering rock bottom. 

These two schools are on totally different levels.  That being said, maybe Izzo's dream of "THE PROGRAM" is being realized.  Spartans are now the benchmarks for measuring greatness.


Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2011 12:04 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

To me, of course, the apt comparison is that Butler are the "Hoosiers" like in the movie. I hope Butler keep it up but I do believe that Mack character for Butler acted out of line and was not caught versus Pitt.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2011 4:22 am

Butler is the new Michigan State

Stevens seems a lot like Few up at Gonzaga: he knows he's got a sweet setup and won't leave unless it's a hell of an offer.  If a Kentucky/Duke/Kansas/UNC/etc. tier school comes knocking, he'd likely jump, but I doubt he'll jump to, say, NC State just because it's in a big conference.

Since: Feb 12, 2010
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:52 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

Did you even watch the game?  Butler shot 42% from the field, including 27% from the 3.  "No way they shoot that well all of the time" ????  Four of Butler's 5 guards combined for 5-22.  If they shoot they way their capable of from 3 and don't play 'not to lose' at the end, they win by 20.  They'll give FL all they can handle on both ends because they're surviving on focus, hard work, intelligence and tenacity, not adrenaline.  

Since: Feb 16, 2010
Posted on: March 25, 2011 6:35 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

Why would Brad Stevens ever leave Butler??

He will win 25-30 games every year.  Win the Conference most years.  Make a deep run in the NCAA's most years (eventually, the committee will have to seed them better, right?).

He's young enough to chase Coach K for most all-time victories (after Coach K passes Knight next season).

He will make more $$$ than he could ever spend.

If success is what he strives for, he could not be at a better place.

The only thing, in my opinion, that would cause Stevens to leave is the challenge of coaching at one of the historic programs....however, on second thought, he could turn Butler into a historic program by staying for 25-30 years.  (He undoubtedly, in my opinion, will win NC"s during his tenure if he continues on this path of success)

Brad Stevens has the best situation at Butler!

Should we just start calling him Coach S?

Since: Mar 25, 2011
Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:58 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

I think you mean we'll see what Kansas is really made of if/when they play Butler (or Florida).  Butler would have beaten a 1, 2, 4 and 9 (and an underrated 9 in Old Dominion). If Kansas makes the final four, it won't be clear whether their play or their opponents were the driving factor. Kansas's 9, 10/11, 12 and 16 opponents read like a pre-conference warm-up schedule.

Since: Mar 25, 2011
Posted on: March 25, 2011 2:04 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

What is the media's obsession with comparing teams to previous ones or trying to jam them into previously defined roles. Butler is not the new Mchigan State. Butler is the new and old Butler. All the talking heads couldn't contain using the label after every high seed victory as "Maybe this years Butler". Well guess what, Butler is this years Butler. They have been a good team for over a decade starting with the Lickliter years. He didn't pan out at a major school, but Thad Matta has done pretty well. Stevens is the best of them yet. I see him taking over for coach K in the next 5-6 years. Butler has been in the tournament about every year over the past decade except for maybe 2, from the Horizon league and winning most of their first round games. Probably at a better clip than half of the Big East teams.

I could see Stevens leaving to take over for Coach K if he ever retires.  By the way it was actually Barry Collier that started the Butler program on the ncaa tournament road.  They hire from within because they know the coach won't try and change the program.  So far it seems to be working just fine.


Since: Mar 25, 2011
Posted on: March 25, 2011 1:59 pm

Butler is the new Michigan State

This comparison of Butler to Michigan State is ridiculous.  Butler's had two good runs in the tournament, while Michigan State had made 6 of the last 12 Final Fours heading into this year.  How about we give Butler a few more years before we start saying they are on par with a team consistent winner like Michigan State.  Heck, let's give see what happens when the current roster turns over, and the next pack of kids comes in, that will be the true test to see if Butler has established itself as a consistent basketball threat.

I'm tired of people taking small samples of information, and putting it on par with continued results.  Let's not forget that Butler's best finish was a Sweet Sixteen finish before last year's run to the title game.  Also, let's see whether they can keep Stevens long term - if he leaves, there program's bound to take a hit.

They signed Brad Stevens to a 12 year deall last year after their championship run.  Unless a big school offers him more money I doubt that he leaves.  It would have to be a big tournament program, I don't see him leaving to go to A program looking to rebuild.

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