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Butler Underdogs Back in Final Four


Butler Bulldogs

2010-11 Record: 27–9 (13–5 Horizon)
Head Coach: Brad Stevens (2nd Final Four)

Projected Starters: G – Shelvin Mack (15.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.6 apg), G – Ronald Nored (5.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.2 spg), G – Shawn Vanzant (8.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F – Matt Howard (16.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.1 spg), C – Andrew Smith (8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 62.1 FG%)

Will win the national title if… Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack and the rest of the Bulldogs who were on the floor against Duke in last year’s national title game use their experience to their advantage against an inexperienced VCU club that is probably “just happy to be here.” After making its second straight Final Four — this time, without Gordon Hayward — Butler has something more to prove.

Will lose to VCU on Saturday if… coach Brad Stevens’ squad overlooks VCU. As crazy as it sounds, the Bulldogs could be overconfident playing as arguably the biggest favorite of the weekend. Kentucky and UConn is a coin toss; nearly everyone will be picking Butler to knock off VCU. The Bulldogs must keep their underdog mentality in order to advance to another national title game.

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Southeast Region

Best Team: Butler
Biggest Upset: Butler over Florida
Most Surprising Team: Butler
Most Disappointing Team: Pittsburgh

Best Player:Shelvin Mack, Butler. The return of the Mack to the NCAA Tournament included a 30-point night against top seed Pitt and a 27-point outing in an overtime win over No. 2 seed Florida.

Honorable Mention: Matt Howard, Butler; Jimmer Fredette, BYU; Alex Tyus, Florida; Erving Walker, Florida; Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin; Jacob Pullen, Kansas State.

Best Game:Butler 74, Florida 71 (ot), Elite Eight — Just when it looked like the Bulldogs had gone about as far as they could, coach Brad Stevens’ team rallied from an 11-point deficit to pull off an amazing overtime victory over Billy Donovan’s Gators.

Most Disappointing Game:Florida 83, BYU 74, Sweet 16 — The end of the Jimmer Fredette era was more whimper than bang. Sure, Jimmer scored 32 points. But it took 29 shots, including an awful 3-of-15 night from 3-point range.