This is the first installment of a 10-part series evaluating the schedules of the 10 Big East teams for the 2013-’14 season. Records, tournament finishes are from last season.
Butler (27-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10)
Last season: NCAA Tournament Third Round (74-72 loss to No. 3 Marquette)
The Bulldogs will face some tough sledding in their first season in a major conference after spending last year in the Atlantic 10. It was only two years ago that Butler was toiling in the dregs of the Horizon League, but back-to-back national championship runner-up seasons in 2010 and 2011 changed that.
However, with coaching savant Brad Stevens off to Boston to coach the Celtics and junior Roosevelt Jones likely done for the year following wrist surgery in August, coach Brandon Miller will have his work cut out for him.
Schedule (all times Central)
Nov. 9 – vs. Lamar 3:00 Fox Sports 2
Nov. 16 – vs. Princeton 7:00 Fox Sports 2
Nov. 19 – vs. Vanderbilt 6:00 Fox Sports 1
Nov. 23 – at Ball State Time TBA
Nov. 28 – vs. Washington State 1:00 ESPN2 (Old Spice Classic, Orlando)
Nov. 29 – vs. Oklahoma State/Purdue 10:00/12:30 ESPN/ESPNU (Old Spice Classic, Orlando)
Dec. 1 – TBD (Old Spice Classic, Orlando)
Dec. 7 – vs. North Dakota 5:00 Fox Sports 1
Dec. 9 – vs. Manchester 7:00 Fox Sports 1
Dec. 14 – vs. Purdue 5:00 Big Ten Network (Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis)
Dec. 21 – at Evansville Time TBA
Dec. 28 – vs. NJIT 12:00 Fox Sports 2
Dec. 31 – vs. Villanova 6:30 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 4 – at Xavier 1:00 FSN
Jan. 9 – vs. DePaul 6:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 11 – vs. Georgetown 5:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 14 – at Creighton 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 18 – vs. Marquette 1:00 CBS Sports
Jan. 21 – at Providence 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 25 – vs. St. John’s 3:00 FSN
Jan. 29 – at Seton Hall 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 4 – at Marquette 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 8 – at Georgetown 12:00 CBS
Feb. 11 – vs. Xavier 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 13 – vs. Creighton 6:00 CBS Sports
Feb. 18 – at St. John’s 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 23 – vs. Providence 5:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 26 – at Villanova 7:00 Fox Sports 1
March 6 – at DePaul 6:00 Fox Sports 1
March 8 – vs. Seton Hall 4:00 Fox Sports 1
The Bulldogs should have little trouble in their first two games, although Princeton should challenge Harvard for the Ivy League title this year.
A home date with Vanderbilt should give Butler a good indication of where they are early in the season, despite an uncharacteristically poor campaign last year from Kevin Stallings’ club. The Commodores lost leading scorer Kedren Johnson to a suspension in July and fellow starter Kevin Bright signed with a pro team in his native Germany, but the ‘Dores bring back Rod Odom, Kyle Fuller and Dai-Jon Parker to a team that went 16-17 last year.
A road trip to in-state foe Ball State precedes a trip to Orlando over Thanksgiving for the Old Spice Classic.
Butler opens with Washington State, who went just 13-19 last year and lost leading scorer Brock Motum to graduation. The Bulldogs will then face either Purdue or Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are expected to be one of the top teams in the country this year after star guard Marcus Smart decided to return for his sophomore year.
The other four teams in the Old Spice Classic are Memphis, Siena, LSU and St. Joseph’s.
Following the Classic, Butler will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for two gimme games against North Dakota and NAIA foe Manchester College before taking on Purdue in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. The Boilermakers return leading scorers Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons to a team that went 16-18 last year and lost in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational.
Butler’s second in-state trip will take them to Evansville before concluding the non-conference slate with NJIT on Dec. 28. I think the Purple Aces will avenge last year’s loss at Butler by knocking off the Bulldogs in a hostile environment.
Butler will open its Big East portion of the schedule at home against Villanova, a team many expect to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid. The New Years Eve affair kicks off a brutal stretch of seven games for the Bulldogs, with trips to Xavier, Creighton and Providence included along with home dates with DePaul, Marquette and Georgetown. A 4-3 record over that stretch would have to feel good for this team.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier, however. After a home date with St. John’s, Butler has three straight road games (Seton Hall, Marquette, Georgetown).
The closing stretch seems to be a bit easier, however, as the Bulldogs will face just two NCAA Tournament teams (Creighton, Villanova) in its final seven contests.
Wins: Lamar, Princeton, Vanderbilt, at Ball State, Washington State (Orlando), LSU (Orlando), North Dakota, Manchester, vs. Purdue (Indianapolis), NJIT, Villanova, DePaul (twice), St. John’s, Seton Hall (twice), Xavier, Creighton, Providence
Losses: Oklahoma State (Orlando), at Evansville, at Xavier, Georgetown (twice), at Creighton, Marquette (twice), at Providence, at St. John’s, at Villanova
Prediction: 19-11, 9-9 Big East (6th)