Wright State at Butler (Horizon League)Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN9:00 PM EST
With the way the Horizon League race has shaped up, this could simply be the second of three dogfights between the Bulldogs and the Raiders (who are canines, you know). With a win at home here, Butler will win the Horizon League regular-season outright and pull hosting duties for the second round and semifinals. The championship game is still at the higher remaining seed, so wrapping up a one-seed is important. (If you think the State of College Basketball rankings are confusing, try playing Track The Bracket
A lot of people aren't that familiar with Wright State (20-7, 12-4), so we'll replay the overview. Despite the same defensive-oriented, grinding style, it's a much different team that won the 2007 Horizon double-championship and went 2-1 against Butler last season. All-everything guard Dashaun Wood
has moved on, and it's a two-sophomore show that will be strong for years to come. Guards Vaughn Duggins
(14.3 ppg, 2.7 apg) and Todd Brown
(12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) stand to become the league's best backcourt once the Graves
show ends at Butler after the season, and any championship experience they pick up this time around will only make them more dangerous later.
And we've spent plenty of time heralding and praising the Bulldogs' superguards and the senior core that comprises five of the team's seven leading scorers, but one of the most compelling storylines of this Butler (25-3, 14-2) season is the undercurrent of good young players that are coming up behind them. Matt Howard
, the 6-9 freshman, is certainly making his presence felt with 12.9 ppg and 5.8 rpg, but the rest of the kids are, you know, alright. Willie Veasley
is a 6-3 sophomore who plays half the game now and shoots 53 percent. Avery Jukes
is a 6-8 soph who could very well grow into an excellent frontcourt complement for Howard, he's hit 77 percent of his shots in spot duty. And anybody who's seen the team play can tell you that freshman guard Shawn Vanzant
is playing through early mistakes on the court and could be poised for a breakout year in 2008-09. This won't be the end of this Wright-Butler rivalry.Basketball State Preview/Box
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