Previewing UConn vs. Butler

Brad Stevens Head Coach Butler
Photo: Brad J. Ward

Making a prediction between UConn vs. Butler is not an easy task. When we posed the question to our friends on Facebook, the votes so far have favored the Huskies, even though Butler is the team that was in the title game just last year.

You have to consider one thing, if Gordan Hayward had not gone pro, this Butler team would be hands down a favorite and probably would have entered the tournament as a number one seed.

Breaking down the NCAA tournament comes down to a few basic rules when trying to predict the overall tournament. These two teams have a lot more balancing them out than people may realize, and the favorite falling to UConn is probably due to the fact that they hail from a power conference. But let’s take a closer look:

1. UConn has a head coach who has years of experience and won multiple national championships. However, Brad Stevens just went to the title game last season. Edge to Calhoun, but Stevens is now officially in the ranks of coaches who can be counted on for wins in the tournament.

2. UConn has a lot of youth, which is almost always a surefire way not to win a title (just ask the Fab Five). The difference has been Kemba Walker, who is such a tremendous go-to player and leader this season that the freshman haven’t looked much like newcomers. However, Butler has loads of experience from last season, and the edge and poise have to go to them.

3. Conference play. UConn plays in the Big East, one of the conferences where conventional wisdom holds that a team from one of the top conferences has to be able to compete at a high level for longer. While that would usually hold true, Butler’s track record from the past two seasons actually shows that they are no longer a giant killer, but a legitimate top team, and the recruits they will no doubt be landing after the last two seasons will make them a formidable team. No advantage.

4. Size. Butler has bigs, but they don’t have the waves of size that UConn will bring. However, UConn’s bigs have yet to prove they can consistently handle the ball and rebound, and Matt Howard is a hard guard for anyone. Slight edge to UConn, but don’t be surprised to see Matt Howard change the game.

5. Foul trouble. UConn can withstand foul trouble a lot more than Butler, as long as it’s not Kemba Walker who is piling up the fouls. Advantage UConn.

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