6. Butler (22-10, 12-6/Big East)– The Bulldogs picked themselves up off the mat after a disheartening Big East debut in 2014, in which they finished 4-14 and looked non-competitive at times towards the end of the year. This is the Butler we’ve come to expect, as the Bulldogs rebounded to win 22 games behind a veteran cast of characters.
6-6 junior guard Kellen Dunham led the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game, and stroked it at 41.5% from beyond the three-point line. Fellow junior Roosevelt Jones has an unorthodox game and an ugly jumper, but he put up 12.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz (11.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg) was a big part of the turnaround as well.
And don’t forget seniors Alex Barlow (9.2 ppg) and Kameron Woods (7.8 ppg), who have been through three conferences and three head coaches in four years.
This Bulldogs squad doesn’t have anywhere near the talent that the 2010-11 teams did, but it’s hungry to make its own mark in what has become a storied basketball tradition. They won’t go down easily.
48th Points Allowed (61.2)
60th Rebounds per game (36.7)
–Owns wins over UNC, Georgetown, Providence
11. Texas (20-13, 8-10/Big XII)–As usual, Texas enters the NCAA Tournament after a Jekyl-and-Hyde season that has frustrated longtime coach Rick Barnes and left many wondering why this team wasn’t better. The Longhorns haven’t reached the tournament’s second weekend since 2008 and have only been a top-four seed once in that time (2011, #4).
This year’s Texas squad opened with seven straight wins, and gave Kentucky a run for its money at Rupp Arena before falling, 63-51. But the ‘Horns struggled mightily down the stretch, going 6-10 before three straight wins in Big 12 play helped them sneak into the field (though UT did blow a 10-point lead in the final minutes to hand Iowa State the game in the Big 12 quarters).
There’s talent on this roster, including sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor (13 ppg, 4.6 apg), 6-11 freshman Myles Turner (10.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Jonathan Holmes (10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg), all of whom began the season as All-Big 12 candidates. The 6-8 Holmes might be the biggest disappointment, as he can post people up and shoot the 3 as well as anyone in the conference.
Texas has size, too, in center Cameron Ridley, and a shifty point guard in Javan Felix. If they ever get it together, this team has Sweet 16 or even Elite Eight potential. But don’t hold your breath.
8th Rebounds per game (39.7)
1st Blocks per game (7.9)
4th Defensive Rebounding (27.3)
PREDICTION: Texas has more talent than Butler, but the Bulldogs have more grit and fight. You can bet these guys don’t want to go out in the Round of 64. If Texas gets down, it’s done. They won’t get off the mat. Take the Bulldogs.