Pittsburgh, Penn. - It will be an all-Indiana Round of 32 matchup in Pittsburgh as the 6-seed Butler Bulldogs take on the 3-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish lead the all-time series between the two teams at 71-31, however Butler has won 6 straight meetings with the last coming at the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. InsidetheDawgPound takes a look at what to expect on Saturday night.
Time: 9:40PM ET
Venue: Pittsburgh, PA (CONSOL Energy Center)
Know Your Foe
Record - 30-5 (14-4)
Coach - Mike Brey - 15th Season (429-216 Overall)
Mascot - Fighting Irish
Conference - ACC
Enrollment - 12,000
Tale of the Tape
Notre Dame is one of the hottest team entering the NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Irish are coming off of an impressive ACC Tournament win and won their 2nd Round game against Northeastern 59-57. Notre Dame was led by junior Zach Auguste with 25 points and 5 rebounds, while senior Jerian Grant added 17 points (7/12 FG). An impressive run in the ACC Tournament knocking off Miami (FL), Duke, and North Carolina earned the Fighting Irish a 3-seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. Grant leads the Irish in scoring on the season at just 16.8 points per game, while senior Pat Connaughton adds 12.8 points and team-high 7.4 rebounds.
Butler took down the Big 12's Texas Longhorns in their 2nd Round matchup 56-48. The Bulldogs were led by junior Kellen Dunham with 20 points (8/11 FT), while senior Kameron Woods added 9 points and 9 rebounds. After finishing tied for 2nd in the Big East regular season, Butler lost their opening game in the Big East Tournament and earned an at-large to the NCAA Tournament with wins over North Carolina, Georgetown, St. John's (x2), and Belmont on their resume. First year head coach Chris Holtmann looks to continue the Bulldogs success in the post season since 2010 as the Bulldogs are 12-3 in that period.
Alex Barlow - Sr. - 5'11" 187 lbs - 9.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.6 spg
Kellen Dunham - Jr. - 6'6" 185 lbs - 16.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 41.0% 3PT
Roosevelt Jones - Jr. - 6'4" 227 lbs - 12.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.7 apg
Andrew Chrabascz - So. - 6'7" 205 lbs - 10.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg
Kameron Woods - Sr. - 6'9" 200 lbs - 7.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 0.9 bpg
Demetrius Jackson - So. - 6'1" 195 lbs - 12.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg
Jerian Grant - Sr. - 6'5" 202 lbs - 16.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.6 apg
Pat Connaughton - Sr. - 6'5" 214 lbs - 12.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 43.4 3PT%
Steve Vasturia - So. - 6'5" 207 lbs - 9.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg
Zach Auguste - Jr. - 6'10" 242 lbs - 12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg
Player to Watch
Kellen Dunham - Dunham, the Bulldogs leading scorer, struggled at times against the Longhorns. He found his rhythm by getting to the free throw line (8/11 FT) and ultimately finished with 20 points (5/14 FG). With Notre Dame's ability to shoot the long-ball, Dunham will need to be able to answer a few of those threes.
Roosevelt Jones - What will his status be for Saturday night? The redshirt junior is one of the most physical players in the country and he is coming off of a sprained knee against Texas. Butler and coach Holtmann have said that the Bulldogs' best playmaker will be in the lineup, but how effective can he be? He will also draw a difficult matchup with Jerian Grant, a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
Demetrius Jackson - The sophomore point guard has connections to the Bulldogs and will certainly be looking to play well. The ultra-quick Jackson is a lock down defender who has developed well offensively. He is averaging 12.4 points and 3.1 assists per game and makes great decision all over the floor. He has over a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. His quickness and on-ball pressure could give the Butler guards problems.
Jerian Grant - Grant is a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award and has had an impressive season. He leads Notre Dame in scoring (16.8) and assists (6.6) while shooting 48.9% from the field. He is a great all-around scorer and will pose a difficult matchup for Butler's Roosevelt Jones and Alex Barlow, who may take turns on the senior star.
Keys to the Game
3-point Shooting - This will be a key for both teams both offensively and defensively. The game could turn into a 3-point shooting contest as both teams can be streaky from the outside and have multiple players that can get hot from deep. Notre Dame shoots 39.2% from 3-point range, while the Bulldogs shoot just 35.7%.
Chrabascz vs undersize PF - While Notre Dame has good size, Butler may have the advantage on the block if they can feed sophomore Andrew Chrabascz. The talented forward could face an undersized player from Notre Dame when coach Brey utilizes his four guard lineup. The Bulldogs will need to take advantage. With great footwork and finishing ability with his back to the basket, Chrabascz could be an X-factor for Butler.
Inside The Numbers
20-12 - Butler's all-time record in the NCAA Tournament.
51% - Notre Dame's field goal percentage this season, which ranks 2nd nationally.
78.8 - Notre Dame's average points per game, which ranks 12th nationally.
60.8 - Butlers average points per game given up this season, which ranks 42nd nationally.
11.3 - Offensive rebounds allowed per game by Notre Dame this season.
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