The Butler Bulldogs Are Going To Win The National Championship…Here’s Why
The Butler Did It Again.
When the average college basketball fan hears “Butler basketball,” they think of the 2010 team came within one shot of the biggest upset in the history of college basketball. Fans might also recall the bulldogs made it to the national championship again the very next year. One of those teams played in one of the greatest national championship games of all time. The other team played in the most forgettable championship game of all time. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs were back-to-back national runner ups. And this year’s iteration of the underdawgs are hungry for more tournament success.
The difference between the 2016 bulldogs and their elder siblings is that this year’s team is just flat out better. The 2010 team’s strength of schedule ranked 76th in the country, a stark contrast to this year’s bulldogs playing the 8th toughest schedule in all of college basketball. What made the 2010 team special was their ability to get hot at the right times. Butler rattled off a 25 game winning streak up leading up to the national championship game. Any team that can win 25 games a row should be considered great. However, the team was simply playing to its potential in a weak Horizon League conference (I am omitting NCAA tournament games from this statement because even the the greatest of teams stumble in the big dance…see 2016 Michigan State vs. Middle Tennessee State).
The 2016–17 bulldogs have played a tougher schedule in preparation for a tournament run. The dawgs posted an impressive 11–1 non conference record with wins over #8 Arizona, #9 Indiana (both neutral site games), and #22 Cincinnati. Head coach Chris Holtmann and athletic director Barry Collier scheduled a greuling non-conference slate and the team rose to the occaison. Butler then went on to exceed expectations in a loaded Big East Conference. The team ended the season with a 12–6 conference record which includes sweeps over rival Xavier and defending national champion Villanova.
The bulldogs continually find a way to win when expects them to falter.
There’s a common thread linking the 2010–11 cinderella runner ups to the 2016–17 powerhouse: The Butler Way. Former Butler head coach and current Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens credited his teams’ success to the Butler Way. Both of the national runner up teams weren’t suppose to make it to the final game. No one except the bulldog faithful believed they could make a run at the championship and that’s what made them so great. They bet on themselves and created their own luck.
This season’s team is another proponent of the Butler Way. Current BU head coach Chris Holtmann echoes Steven’s belief in the Butler Way in a December 2016 interview with Sports Illustrated: “It is about doing things the right way and bring in kids with talent and character. We are all far from perfect, but the goal is to do things a certain way, and that ideal has led to a lot of success here.” Regardless of the players, coaches, or anyone else occupying the hallowed halls of Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Butler Way lives on.
With the NCAA tournament lurking just around the corner, its time for you to take the Butler Bulldogs seriously. We have this saying on campus for our team; Dawgs Gotta Eat. It means our guys are going to gut it out and find a way to win no matter the circumstance. The Big East Tournament was the appetizer and now the NCAA Tournmant is the dawgs main course. Butler is hungry for another championship run. Consider this your chance to pencil in Butler as your office pool champion. If you choose not to…don’t say I didn’t warn you.