So much has happened to the Butler Bulldogs over the off-season. At one point they were probably one of the favorites to win the Big East, but that is definitely not the case now. Still, is Butler a Big East contender or pretender?
Until a new go-to guy emerges, Butler will remain a pretender. They lost Rotnei Clarke, Andrew Smith and Roosevelt Jones over the off-season. Those were the top three leading scorers on the team. Not to mention, head coach Brad Stevens bolted for the NBA. Stevens led this team to some great times, which included two straight national championship appearances.
It is going to be really interesting to see how this team does without Stevens, let alone a bunch of talent from last year. Usually you would never count out the Bulldogs, but they are basically a new team with a new identity now. Who knows what that new identity will consist of.
The Bulldogs will have a pretty easy non-conference schedule, which should lead to some wins before conference play. Maybe this will result in some much needed momentum before Butler plays its first game in the Big East. Maybe not.
Whether the case, Butler is a pretender until it proves otherwise. This team has been one of the most exciting programs to watch in college hoops over the last few years and I hope that will still be the case even with Stevens no longer leading the team.
No matter how you look at it, the Bulldogs will still not be the worst team in the Big East, so at least there is that. Only time will tell if it will actually be a contender, though.