Preview: No.8 Butler vs. No.4 Wisconsin

Two wins away from the Final Four, Wisconsin looks to stomp Cinderella's slipper and advance to the Elite Eight when it takes on Butler in the Southeast regional semifinal Thursday night.

No.8 Butler (25-9, 13-5 Horizon League) vs. No.4 Wisconsin (25-8, 13-5 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Thursday, March 24, 8:57 p.m. Central

Arena – New Orleans Arena (18,500)

Television - TBS (Gus Johnson, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Marty Snider)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas), Westwood One

Series – Wisconsin leads 17-13 (First Meeting on neutral court)

Last Meeting – Butler won, 58-44, on Jan. 30, 2001 in Madison.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 18.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 5.9 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.8 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 18.7 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 9.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.5 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 2.9 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 4.5 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 2.5 ppg)

Butler Probable Starters

1 Shelvin Mack (Junior Guard, 15.6 ppg)

2 Shawn Vanzant (Senior Guard, 8.1 ppg)

33 Chase Stigall (Sophomore Guard, 4.0 ppg)

44 Andrew Smith (Sophomore Forward, 8.9 ppg)

54 Matt Howard (Senior Forward, 16.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zach Hahn (Senior Guard, 5.1 ppg)

5 Ronald Nored ( Junior Guard, 5.5 ppg)

23 Khyle Marshall (Freshman Forward, 5.8 ppg)

Last Time Out

TUCSON, Ariz. - With its 70-65 victory over Kansas State, Wisconsin has earned the right to move onto the Sweet 16 in New Orleans to take on the eighth seeded Butler Bulldogs Thursday. If you ask Jon Leuer though, he'll say the Badgers believe that they still have work to do.

"It's great," Leuer said. "(It's an) unbelievable feeling in the locker room celebrating with your teammates knowing you are one of 16 teams still playing. At the same time we think we're far from over. We have a lot of work to do still and are looking forward to our next challenge."

Most teams still fighting have a go-to guy, a superstar player that takes the big shot and leads the team to victory. But according to Leuer, Wisconsin (25-8) thrives by having a team, not just an individual that steps up when needed.

"We just made plays," Leuer said. "Everybody stepped up, you can go right down the line. Mike's big three. Tim Jarmusz hit some big shots. Even though Jordan was off offensively he made some huge plays down the stretch. He found Mike on that three. Right before that he got the steal. Just go right down the line of guys stepping up and making key contributions.

"That's what you need in March if you want to keep playing, just guys stepping up and giving you good production. So that's how I think we came out on top tonight."

For the second game in a row, Mike Bruesewitz battled through a knee injury to provide UW with a huge lift off the bench by scoring 11 points, including a huge three pointer with 1:25 remaining to put the Badgers in the lead, and grabbing six rebounds.

By scoring 70 points, UW pushed its record to 15-0 on the season when it eclipses that mark. Josh Gasser put in points number 69 and 70 to seal the victory for the Badgers, which were his 10th and 11th points of the game.

Last Meeting

The Bulldogs upset No. 10-ranked Wisconsin, 58-44, at the Kohl Center in 2001 in the last meeting between the two teams. Current Butler Coordinator of Basketball Operations Darnell Archey, then a sophomore on the Bulldogs' roster, played in that game and scored three points. The Bulldogs were coached by current Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, while current Butler coach Brad Stevens was in his first season as the Bulldogs' Director of Basketball Operations.

Series Notes:

Thursday will be the 31st meeting between Wisconsin and Butler in a series dating back to 1921

The Badgers and Bulldogs have not played since 2001, prior to head coach Bo Ryan taking the reins at Wisconsin ... Ryan, however, did spend two seasons in the Horizon League as the head coach at Milwaukee ... Ryan's teams were 0-5 against Butler.

Wisconsin and Butler have played two common opponents this season, Horizon League members Milwaukee and Green Bay. The Badgers beat both Milwaukee (61-40) and Green Bay (70-56). Butler went 3-2 vs. those teams, beating Green Bay twice and posting a 1-2 record vs. Milwaukee.

Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament

Wisconsin has averaged 71.0 points in its two NCAA tournament wins. The Badgers have averaged an impressive 1.22 points per possession in their two NCAA tourney wins.

Wisconsin has advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time since 2000 and the fourth time under Bo Ryan. The Badgers also made Sweet 16 appearances in 2003 (losing to Kentucky) and 2008 (losing to Davidson), an Elite Eight appearance in 2005 (losing to North Carolina) and a Final Four appearance in 2000 (losing to Michigan State).

The Badgers are making their 4th Sweet 16 appearance since 2003. Only five schools — Duke (7), Kansas (6), UConn (5), Michigan State (5) and North Carolina (5) have made more trips to the Round of 16 more than Wisconsin over that span.

The Badgers are making their 17th appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers are 23-15 (.605) all-time in the Big Dance, winning the 1941 NCAA title.

The Badgers have been to each of the last 13 NCAA tournaments, including each of Bo Ryan's 10 seasons at Wisconsin. Ryan's teams own a 14-9 (.609) all-time record in the Big Dance.

Including two wins in this year's tournament, Ryan's teams are 13-3 against lower-seeded teams in the NCAA tournament. A No. 4 seed this season, Wisconsin will play No. 8 seed Butler on Thursday.

Bo Ryan is one of just five coaches to take the same school to each of the last 10 NCAA tournaments, joining Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Rick Barnes (Texas).

UW has earned a top-4 seed in three of the last four years.

The Badgers have won 18 NCAA tournament games since 2000, a number that ranks 10th in college basketball.

Butler in the NCAA Tournament

By beating Pittsburgh, Butler improved to 15-10 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.

Butler's last four NCAA Tournament games have been decided by two points or less, and the Bulldogs have played five games decided by two points or less in the last seven NCAA contests.

Butler has won its last 11 games, including two in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. The 11-game winning streak is Butler's longest of the season and the second-longest streak under head coach Brad Stevens.

Butler leads all Horizon League members in NCAA Tournament wins with 13 since the league was formed in 1979-80. All other current members have combined for 10 wins during their time as league schools. Butler's Brad Stevens tops all coaches in the Horizon League with eight all-time NCAA Tournament wins.

Butler Notes:

Junior Shelvin Mack tallied 30 points for the second time in eight games and led all scorers in Butler's victory over top-seeded Pittsburgh. The 6-3 guard hit a career-high 10 field goals against the Panthers and matched his career-high with seven three-point field goals. He's just the fourth Butler player in the past 12 seasons to score 30 points in a game, and he's the first since 1990-91 to do it twice.

Butler's victory over #4-ranked Pittsburgh was the Bulldogs' first this season against a nationally-ranked squad. The Bulldogs have six wins in their last eight games against nationally-ranked opponents, with both setbacks coming to Duke.

Matt Howard posted his 100th career double-figures scoring performance with 15 points against Old Dominion. He made it 101 with 16 points against Pitt.

Butler head coach Brad Stevens recorded his 100th career win in his 120th career game. Only five coaches in NCAA men's basketball history reached 100 wins faster, and none has done it in the last three decades.

Butler has won at least 20 games in six consecutive seasons and in 13 of the past 15 campaigns.


For the 2nd-straight season, Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest turnovers at just 7.48 per game, a mark that would break the NCAA single-season record of 7.72 (247 turnovers in 32 games) set by Temple in 2006.

The Bulldogs committed just six turnovers in their victory over Pittsburgh. It was the 12th time this season that Butler had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game and the fourth time in the past six outings. The Bulldogs had a season-low five turnovers in a victory at home over Loyola on Feb. 26. Don't plan on seeing a lot of loose balls on the New Orleans Arena floor.

Don't expect to see a blowout either, as these two appear to be mirror image teams. What is this game going to come down to? Rob Jeter tells me that he believes Keaton Nankivil's ability to step off the block and shoot the three will be unique and different for Butler, giving UW an edge.

"They really haven't had to face that," Jeter said of Nankivil's ability. "We were able to beat Butler the first game by really playing well because we got the ball out for open 3-pointers. I think Butler will really corral Jordan Taylor and he'll need to throw it back to the perimeter and it depends who he's throwing it back to. If he's throwing the ball back to Keaton, that could be to their advantage. If he's throwing back to a four man, Butler does a nice job of switching on the perimeter."

Attack inside, get Howard in foul trouble and if the Badgers stick with their defensive fundamentals, I think this will be an elite performance for Wisconsin, heading to the regional finals behind a four-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 29-4

Points off Prediction: 222 (6.73 per game)

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