Maryland-Butler, In-Depth: The Breakdown

We're back in familiar territory, Terps fans -- an inch away from the Sweet 16 and one stretch of good basketball away from an ending the likes of which few imagined six weeks ago. But we aren't there yet. Maryland faces a worthy opponent Saturday in the regional quarterfinals, one that will present plenty of challenges -- all of which are detailed in TSR's latest in-depth breakdown...


NCAA Tournament, Midwest Region, Round Two:

No. 4 seed Maryland Terrapins (College Park, Md.) vs. No. 5 seed Butler Bulldogs (Indianapolis, Ind.)

When: Saturday, March 17, 3:20 p.m.

Where: HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.

Coaches:

Maryland Terrapins – Gary Williams, 18th year, 378-199 at Maryland.

Butler Bulldogs – Todd Lickliter, 6th year, 130-60 at Butler.

Probable starters:

Butler (28-6, 13-3 Horizon League)*

10 PG Mike Green, 6-0, Jr. (14.1 PPG, 4.0 APG, 5.8 RPG)

4 SG A.J. Graves, 6-1, Jr. (17.0 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.2 RPG)

1 G Julian Betko, 6-5, Sr. (4.4 PPG, 1.3 APG, 2.2 RPG)

33 F Brandon Crone, 6-6, Sr. (11.4 PPG, 2.0 APG, 4.8 RPG)

24 F Brian Ligon, 6-7, Sr. (3.6 PPG, 0.1 APG, 3.1 RPG)

Key Reserves:

22 F Pete Campbell, 6-7, Jr. (8.9 PPG, 0.4 APG, 1.6 RPG)

41 F Drew Streicher, 6-7, Jr. (4.0 PPG, 0.6 APG, 2.8 RPG)

Maryland (24-8, 10-6 Atlantic Coast Conference)*

21 PG Greivis Vasquez, 6-5, Fr. (9.9 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.3 RPG)

23 SG Mike Jones, 6-5, Sr. (13.4 PPG, 1.4 APG, 3.1 RPG)

2 G D.J. Strawberry, 6-5, Sr. (15.2 PPG, 3.4 APG, 4.3 RPG)

15 F James Gist, 6-8, Jr. (12.7 PPG, 1.3 APG, 7.2 RPG)

25 F Ekene Ibekwe, 6-9, Sr. (10.5 PPG, 0.8 APG, 7.6 RPG)

Key Reserves:

5 G Eric Hayes, 6-3, Fr. (5.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.9 RPG)

50 F Bambale Osby, 6-8, Jr. (5.8 PPG, 0.4 APG, 3.8 RPG)

*Stats as of 3/14

First Round Result:

Butler – 57-46 over #12 Old Dominion

The Bulldogs had three scorers in double figures—A.J. Graves (18 pts.), Mike Green (14 pts.) and Brandon Crone (12 pts.)—and outscored Old Dominion 38-26 in the second half en route to the 11-point win. The Bulldogs shot just 40% from the field and hoisted up 24 three point shots, making nine. Butler was out-rebounded 35-25 and had just five team assists in the low-scoring affair.

Maryland – 82-70 over #13 Davidson

The Terps fell behind by as many as eight points in the first half before going on a 10-0 run and led 44-43 at the half. Behind Mike Jones (17 pts.) and the superb inside play of reserve Bambale Osby (11 pts., 6 rebs.), the Terps pulled away late in the second half and advanced to the second round. Davidson freshman guard Stephen Curry was the game's leading scorer with 30 pts. Just one other Wildcat was in double figures—guard Jason Richards (11 pts.). Six Terps scored in double figures, with Jones, James Gist (12 pts.) and D.J. Strawberry (12 pts.) leading the way. Maryland dominated the boards, out-rebounding Davidson 49-31.

Last Meeting: None

Breakdown:

Perhaps the theme for both teams in the first round was to survive and advance. Maryland and Butler played tight first halves before breaking the games open after halftime and defeating their first-round opponents by double digits. The two games, however, were played at vastly different paces and fittingly reflect the way Maryland and Bulter have played all season.

Butler comes into Saturday's game scoring just 68.4 points per game—good for a 178 ranking in scoring offense of all Division 1 teams. Like Davidson, the Bulldogs like to shoot the three-ball, averaging just over 24 attempts per game before Thursday. However, they are not nearly as efficient from behind the arc, shooting just 36.5 percent, which is 100th in the nation.

Also like Davidson, Butler does not possess a strong inside game. It does not have a regular player over 6-foot-7 and averages 1.2 rebounds per game less than its opponent—which puts the Bulldogs at 224 in the nation in that category.

What Butler does have, however, is experience. Three starters are seniors and the other two are juniors. Its three top reserves are upperclassmen—juniors Pete Campbell and Drew Streicher and senior Marcus Nellems. A.J. Graves and Brandon Crone are the only returning starters from 2005-2006, but Julian Betko and Brian Ligon saw action in all of last year's 33 games. Mike Green transferred from Towson University and sat out last season. In his first season at Butler, he is second on the team with 14.1 points per game and leads the team in total minutes.

The Bulldogs also have depth. Its regular rotation consists of nine players, each of whom see over 12 minutes per game. In fact, only two players—Green and Graves—see over 30 minutes a game, so don't expect the Bulldogs to wear down.

Who to keep an eye on:

Butler gets most of its production from the guard positions. Graves leads the team in scoring with 17.0 points per game—most of which come from behind the arc. Out of all his field goal attempts, 60 percent are from three. Fifty percent of his points come from the three-ball. Don't expect any Graves to give Maryland any favors from the free-throw line—he has missed only six in 143 attempts, good for 95.8 percent and second in the nation. That goes for the team as well—the Bulldogs shoot 76.3 percent from the charity stripe, which is 6th best in the nation.

Green is more of a slasher who can take his man off the dribble. He shoots only 30.4 percent from three. At only 6-foot, Green is the team's leading rebounder.

The main deep threats are Graves, Campbell and Streicher. Campbell and Streicher shoot the three at impressive clips—51.4 percent and 42.1 percent respectively. The 6-foot-6 Crone can also step outside, but shoots just over 30 percent from three.

So how has this team won 28 games? A stifling defense. The Bulldogs rank 35th nationally in field goal percent defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 40.5 percent. They also slow down the game and make teams play at their pace. The Bulldogs have defeated every major Division 1 school they have faced this year—Notre Dame (71-69), Indiana (60-55), Tennessee (56-44) and Purdue (68-65).

They also defeated Gonzaga 79-71 to take home the Preseason NIT championship. In their wins, the opponent has scored over 70 points only twice (one of which was a double overtime game against Kent State). In their six losses, the winner went over 70 points five times. So perhaps the magic number for the Terps lies at 70, about ten points less than their average.

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