Bradley (MVC) at Butler (Horizon)
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN
7:00 PM EST
When we pundits make our predictions in October, we are usually soooo
sure of ourselves and our expertise and our intimate knowledge of the game of basketball. Many in this business make ice-cold ice-pick lock-stock-and-barrel picks, only to see everything turned on its ear a month into the season. And, after all, that's why they play the games, right? (Actually, they play the games because if they don't, the NCAA will decertify the protesting schools involved. But you get the idea.)
We had Bradley as a strong No. 2 in the Missouri Valley behind Southern Illinois, but that was before things like this
happened... if the Salukis can manage just 27 percent shooting against Western Michigan, how will they do against other good-guarding teams from their own conference like Bradley and Creighton? Time to conveniently forget that one-bid Valley prediction too, what with the league's 52-32 nonconf record and No. 8 RPI. Seven of those wins belong to these Braves (7-3), who have size and depth along with last year's great backcourt. You probably know about the Crouch-Ruffin guard combo, but how about Andrew Warren
, who's almost tripled his scoring average as a sophomore? He exploded for 23 at Wright State last Tuesday in a big 72-65 overtime win.
That's the same Wright State team that beat Butler, the only team that's topped the Bulldogs (9-1, 1-1) so far. Butler's been one of the few we've all gotten right, though we thought they might take a step back after losing a head coach and power forward off a Sweet 16 team. Wrong again. Brad Stevens' crew features the same exceptional ball control (just 10.4 turnovers per game), and overcome severe rebounding deficiencies with efficient offense and an unwillingness to put the other team on the line (HL-low 16.2 fouls per game). After a two-game mini-slump, Butler's own guard combo of Mike Green and A.J. Graves returned in a big way against Florida State last weekend, but the team is still without key defense-scattering big guy Pete Campbell (knee sprain), who can shoot the three just as well. He won't return this evening, but Hinkle Magic might: Bradley has lost in its last seven visits there.BUTL 83, BRAD 64
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