(3) Marquette vs. (6) Butler
(3) Marquette Golden Eagles
The Davidson Wildcats came out of the gate ready to play and looked poised to upset the Golden Eagles up until the final moments. In the end, though, they couldn’t stop Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson, who sparked a late run to steal away a 59-58 decision. The Golden Eagles trailed by six with 1:10 remaining, but Blue and Wilson combined to score 11 straight, with Blue’s layup at the six second mark serving as the eventual game-winner. Their heroics helped negate a 20-point effort from Jake Cohen. The Golden Eagles offense rarely clicked before that explosion; they shot 34 percent from the field and 26 percent from deep on the day. The Wildcats played tough defense, but this was also just one of those games where the Golden Eagles couldn’t get going offensively. With that being the case they crashed the glass relentlessly and ended up being a +15, with 14 offensive boards, in the rebounding department. They’re going to have to duplicate that kind of effort on the glass against the Bulldogs and also greatly improve upon their offensive efficiency. The Bulldogs’ defense isn’t going to be any easier to score against than the Wildcats’, and if the Golden Eagles come out cold again they could find themselves in a hole they can’t get out of.
(6) Butler Bulldogs
In the unfamiliar role of being the favorite against a mid-major powerhouse that was a popular Cinderella choice, the Bulldogs managed to take care of business and move on to the Round of 32 with a 68-56 victory over the Bucknell Bison. The Bison provided the Bulldogs with a scare behind the sharp shooting of senior Joe Williman. He finished with 20 points, but without center Mike Muscala, the Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, at his best the Bison couldn’t keep up. He was 4-17 from the field, meanwhile his counterpart Andrew Smith finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds. The Bulldogs’ offense had some lulls, but their defense, especially against Muscala, never let up. Rotnei Clarke led the Bulldogs with 17 points and Roosevelt Jones matched Smith with 14 of his own. They went to the line 28 times, 20 more than the Bison, making 25. The only area they really need to look to improve in against Marquette is three-point shooting as they were a putrid 3-17 from distance. Vander Blue and the Golden Eagles will test their perimeter defense, which needs to be as good as their interior defense was against the Bison.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Butler. We’re going to go with the Bulldog’s defense putting forth another solid outing and being the difference against the Golden Eagles.