Yes Virginia, Butler is still the king of hoops in Indiana.
Sure Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers are currently ranked fifth, while Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs are 18th, but when the two met earlier this month in Indianapolis, Butler once again flexed its muscle and proved that it truly is top dog in this basketball crazed state.
Somewhere on Dec. 15 Hoosiers director David Anspaugh was and still is smiling. Why?
Because Butler pulled off a 2012 version of one of the best sports movies ever made more than 25 years after Hoosiers hit the big screen.
Remember this was supposed to be IU’s year where it regained its supremacy as not only the dominant program in the state where basketball is a religion, but as a national force.
And when all is said and done, the Hoosiers still could make plenty of noise and are definitely Final Four caliber. Nonetheless against the Cream and Crimson, the Bulldogs not only showcased why they are a top-15 team, but how they could have yet another deep run come March … one that could result in their third trip to the Final Four in the last four years.
The “Voice of the Bulldogs” – Brandon Gaudin – told Rant Sports, Butler is capable of playing with anyone and it did just that toppling the mighty and undefeated Hoosiers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, in what was one of the most raucous “neutral” court settings ever.
Butler’s performance was impressive on many levels, but none perhaps more so than the fact that for all practical purposes this was an IU home game as at least 80 percent of the 19,192 were clad in Cream and Crimson.
Despite having three players foul out, the Bulldogs still managed to nip the Hoosiers 88-86 in a classic.
There are no All-Americans or five-star recruits on this Butler roster, just guys who play harder than most teams could ever dream of. Don’t get me wrong, the Bulldogs have talent, they can shoot it (11 3-pointers vs. IU), rebound (outrebounded the Hoosiers’ talented front court 40-38) and really defend. Translation? This is one very good basketball team and one that is a lot of fun to watch.
As we prepare to head into 2013 and the college basketball season is about to take center stage, there are plenty of uncertainties. Is Duke as good as its No. 1 ranking and 11-0 record? Is the Big Ten as dominant as their six teams currently ranked among the nation’s top 25, including five in the top 12, would lead you to believe? Will defending national champion Kentucky be a force towards the end of the season that everyone seems to believe John Calipari’s 8-3 team will be?
Soon we will have some answers to the aforementioned questions, but one thing is certain, when filling your brackets out come Selection Sunday it might be wise to have Butler going a long way and don’t be surprised at all if those Bulldogs are playing for another national championship April 8 in Atlanta.