March 18, 2008

Butler Faces South Alabama In Birmingham

March 18, 2008

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SOUTHERN DANCE: Butler is returning to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship for the second straight year and for the second consecutive time, the Bulldogs will begin tournament play in their home uniforms. But the color of the uniforms is where Butler's home status ends. The No. 7-seeded Bulldogs will meet No. 10 seed South Alabama on Friday, March 21, at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham, Ala. The game will start at approximately 2:45 p.m. (ET). South Alabama (26-6) won the East Division of the Sun Belt Conference and earned the top seed in the conference tournament, before being upset in the semifinals by Middle Tennessee. The Jaguars set a school record for wins this season with 26. Butler will be making its second visit to Birmingham. The Bulldogs defeated Mississippi State and Louisville in the 2003 NCAA Tournament at the BJCC Arena to advance to the "Sweet 16". Butler's No. 7 seed is the second-highest in school history, trailing last year's No. 5 seed.

Butler has won a first round game in its last three NCAA Tournament appearances.

POSTSEASON WORK: Butler has advanced to post-season tournament play for the 10th time in 12 years. The Bulldogs earned bids to the NCAA Tournament in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007 and this year, and berths in the National Invitation Tournament in 1999, 2002 and 2006. Butler's post-season record over that stretch is 9-9 (5-6 NCAA, 4-3 NIT).

LAST TIME OUT: Butler captured its first Horizon League Tournament championship since 2001 with a 70-55 victory over Cleveland State in the league title game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 11. The Bulldogs never trailed in the game, and the contest was tied just once (34-34). Butler maintained a double-digit lead for the final nine minutes of the game, stretching the lead to as many as 18 points in the closing minutes. The victory gave Butler its league-high fifth Horizon League Tournament trophy.

ALL-TOURNAMENT: Mike Green was named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2008 Horizon League Championship, and he was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Matt Howard and Drew Streicher. Green led the Bulldogs in scoring in the tournament with 43 points in two games, while Howard added 24 in the two Butler wins. Streicher tallied a season-high 11 points in the tournament championship game.

BEST DEFENSE: The Bulldogs held UIC to just 50 points in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals and then yielded just 55 points to Cleveland State in the tournament championship tilt. It was the 13th of 14th times this season that Butler has held its opponent to 55 points or less. Butler has held its last three foes and five of its last seven opponents to 55 points or less.

Butler ranks 5th in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense (57.8).

20-SOMETHING: Butler has posted its tenth 20-win season in the past 12 years. The Bulldogs' current 29-3 record is the best 32-game mark in school history, and the 29 wins has tied the school record set by last year's team. The Bulldogs recorded 15 victories away from Hinkle Fieldhouse this season.

Butler set a school record with 27 regular season wins this year.

LEAGUE RECORD: Butler has established a new Horizon League record for best two-year win total with 58 victories since the start of last season. The previous record of 53 wins was originally set by Butler from 2001-03. The Bulldogs also tied the Horizon League record and set a school mark for most league wins in a season (16).

CAREER START: Head coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own an 29-3 career record. Legendary coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle was 27-5 through his first 32 games, while Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, and Harlan O. "Pat" Page each posed a 26-6 record. Stevens is just the second men's basketball coach in Butler history to guide the Bulldogs to 29 wins in a season. Lickliter was the first, accomplishing the feat last year.

GOING GREEN: Senior guard Mike Green is one of just eight players in the NCAA Division I and one of just two players in the NCAA Tournament who leads his team in scoring, rebounding and assists. Green paces the Bulldogs with a 14.9 scoring average, a 6.6 rebound average and a Horizon League-best 5.13 assist average. He's been Butler's leading scorer in seven games this season and the team's leading rebounder in 17 games, while topping the Bulldogs in assists in 29 games. Green matched is career scoring high and his career rebounding high with 24 points and 13 rebounds in the championship game of the Horizon League Tournament.

Mike Green is the only player who ranks in the Horizon League's "Top 10" in scoring, rebounding and assists.

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY: The Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham will be forever enshrined in Butler basketball lore. In 2003, the Bulldogs received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and took a #12 seed to Birmingham to face #5 Mississippi State and a highly-partisan crowd in the BJCC Arena. The first round game went right to the wire, before senior guard Brandon Miller hit a one-handed runner in the lane with 0:06 left to give Butler a 47-46 upset. Two days later, guard Darnell Archey hit eight of nine three-point field goal attempts to lift Butler to a 79-71 upset of #4 Louisville. Miller returns with the Bulldogs this week as an assistant coach. Butler head coach Brad Stevens was an assistant coach with the Bulldogs in 2003.

Butler is 3-1 all-time in Birmingham, Alabama.

POLL WATCH: Butler enters the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship with a "Top 25" national rank for the second straight year. The Bulldogs remained in the "Top 10" of the ESPN/USA Today poll with a No. 10 ranking for the second straight week and rose to No. 11 in the AP poll, when the national rankings were released on March 17. Butler has been ranked in the "Top 25" of the A.P. poll for 19 straight weeks and in both polls for 18 consecutive weeks, reaching as high as No. 8 in both polls on February 18.

Butler has been nationally ranked (Top 25) for 34 weeks since Nov. 27, 2006.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Only four teams in the nation, Memphis (33), North Carolina (32), UCLA (31) and Kansas (31), have posted more wins this season than the Bulldogs (29).

•Butler ranks in the "Top 10" in Division I in won-loss pct. (.906), fewest turnovers (10.3) and scoring defense (57.8).

•Butler leads the Horizon League in scoring margin (+10.6), turnover margin (+3.59), fewest turnovers (10.3), and assist/turnover ratio (1.27) and three-point field goal defense (.321). The Bulldogs are second in 3-point field goals (9.22) and free throw shooting (.737).

•A. J. Graves stands in fourth place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,768 career points. He became the 39th player in Horizon League history to reach the 1,500-point plateau, and he currently stands 22nd on the league's all-time scoring list.

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 296, 18 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06). He's currently fourth on the Horizon League's all-time list for three-pointers.

•A. J. Graves has moved into seventh place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 308 career assists. He's two shy of Mike Monserez, 2001-04, in sixth place.

•A. J. Graves has started a school-record 122 games. He's also tied the school mark for games played (128).

•Mike Green ranks seventh in the Horizon League in scoring (14.9). He's scored 1,617 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 976 at Butler).

•Mike Green leads the Horizon League in assists (5.13) and ranks third in assist/turnover ratio (1.82). He's second in defensive rebounds (5.38), sixth in steals (1.31), eighth in rebounding (6.6) and 10th in free throw shooting (.765). Green tops the league in free throws made (176).

•Mike Green currently owns the second-highest single season assist total (164) in Butler history. He's four shy of the school record held by Tim Bowen, 1990-91.

•Mike Green has moved into seventh place on Butler's all-time list for free throws made (372).

•Pete Campbell leads the Horizon League in 3-point field goals (3.14) and ranks seventh in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (.442). He's hit at least one 3-pointer in 32 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Pete Campbell stands in ninth place on Butler's all-time list for 3-point field goals (172). He's two three-pointers shy of Jermaine Guice, 1990-94, in eighth place and three away from assistant coach Matthew Graves, 1993-98, in seventh.

•Pete Campbell is on pace to break Butler's all-time record for three-point field goal shooting. Darin Archbold, 1988-92, set the record of .465. Campbell currently boasts a .478 career mark.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.604). He's second in offensive rebounds (2.47), third in blocked shots (1.16), ninth in free throw shooting (.776), 13th in rebounding (5.6) and 15th in scoring (12.6).

•Matt Howard currently owns the second-highest single season scoring total (402 pts) ever by a Butler freshman. The all-time Butler freshman record of 476 points was set by Tony Warren in 1979-80.

•The Bulldogs, who hit eight 3-point field goals in the Horizon League championship game, are 23-0 when hitting eight or more 3-pointers in a game.

•Butler has the most wins of any Division I team in Indiana for the third straight year. The Hoosier state boasted six teams with 20 or more wins this season.