Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The sixth-seeded Butler Bulldogs will take on the 11th-seeded Texas Longhorns in second-round action of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional on Thursday afternoon at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The winner here will move into the third round and take on either No.3 seed Notre Dame or No. 14 seed Northeastern.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns reached the 20-win mark thanks to wins in three of their last four games. Texas did struggle a bit in Big 12 Conference play this year at 8-10 and bowed out of the Big 12 Tournament with a heart-breaking 69-67 loss to Iowa State in the quarterfinals. This marks the 16th appearance in the Big Dance in the last 17 years for Texas and the 32nd all-time. The Longhorns hold a 35-34 all-time record in this event.
Butler put everyone on notice with a couple of runs to the NCAA Championship Game in 2010 and 2011. This year's squad earned an at-large bid on the strength of a 22-10 record and second-place finish in the Big East. Chris Holtmann's Bulldogs' posted five wins over Top-25 teams this year, but failed to make a run in the Big East Tournament, dropping a 67-61 overtime affair to Xavier in the quarterfinals. Butler is taking part in its 13th NCAA Tournament with a 19-12 tournament record.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
The gameplan for Texas will be to smother Butler defensively. The Longhorns have thrived on that this season, imposing their will at the defensive end of the floor. The team is yielding just 60.4 ppg and ranks fourth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.368), while leading the nation in blocked shots (260 - 7.9 per game). The Longhorns also hold an impressive +8.3 rebounding margin.
Scoring for Texas comes from a number of sources, including a trio of double- digit threats. Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor shoots a modest .401 from the field, but he is tops on the team in both scoring (13.0 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). Freshman forward Myles Turner (10.4 ppg) provides a spark off the bench for the most part and leads the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg) and blocked shots (88). Senior forward Jonathan Holmes (10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is another frontcourt presence for the Longhorns.
The offensive numbers haven't been all that impressive for Butler this season, but the Bulldogs have proved to be at their best against better competition. The team enters the postseason averaging 69.6 ppg, while maintaining a solid +6.4 rebounding margin.
While the overall scoring numbers may not be eye-popping, junior guard Kellen Dunham is a difference maker for Butler. The junior guard was certainly among the Big East's top scoring threats this season and enters this game averaging a hefty 16.7 ppg, due in large part to his efficiency from long range (73- of-176 -- .415). Fellow junior Roosevelt Jones and sophomore Andrew Chrabascz give the team options at 12.6 and 11.1 ppg, respectively. The starting five also includes seniors Alex Barlow (9.2 ppg) and Kameron Woods (7.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg).