Butler Advances; Valpo Eliminated from NCAA Tournament
(photo courtesy Butler University Athletics)
The Butler Bulldogs were able to hold off upset-minded Bucknell with a 68-56 win in Lexington, KY.
The Bulldogs struggled offensively throughout the game, and connected on just three-of-their-seventeen three-point attempts. Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke was just 5 of 14 from the field, but was 5 of 6 from the freethrow line. Freethrows played a major factor for the Bulldogs, who hit 18 of 20 from the line down the stretch to seal the victory.
Butler had four players score in double-figures and were led by senior guard Rotnei Clarke who scored 17 points. Andrew Smith came up big for Brad Stevens' Bulldogs with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Joe Willman led the Bison with 20 points, even though he averaged only 10 points a game during the season. Two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Senior center Mike Muscala struggled with just nine points on 4-for-17 shooting from the floor.
Butler improves to 27-8 and advances to the third round where they’ll face the winner of Marquette and Davidson.
Meanwhile, the Valparaiso Crusaders made a second half comeback but it wasn't enough to overcome Michigan State Thursday. The Crusaders fell to MSU 65-54.
The Spartans' Derrick Nix proved to be too much to handle as he led them with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Valparaiso was led in scoring by Ben Boggs with 15, he added 2 assists as well. Crusaders big man Kevin Van Wijk had 7 rebounds.
This was Valparaiso's first trip to the tournament in 9 years. The Crusaders lost to Michigan State in the first round of the tournament in 2000 as well. Michigan State moves on to play Saturday.
The Spartans look to make the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in six years. The Crusaders finish the season with a school-record 26 wins.