Delaware (18-13) at Butler (20-14)
The Sports Network
Wednesday, March 14, 8:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: NDNet. CBI Record: Delaware 0-0, Butler 0-0. Series Record: Butler leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Butler Bulldogs will make their seventh consecutive appearance in the postseason as they host the Delaware Blue Hens for the first round of the 2012 College Basketball Invitational.
This will be the first ever appearance in the tournament for either side. The CBI is now in just its sixth year of existence. The Bulldogs defeated Delaware, 76-59, on Nov. 17, 2001 in the only previous meeting between the two schools.
Delaware will be making just its sixth ever appearance in a postseason tournament in school history. The last time the Blue Hens played past their conference tournament was in 2000 when they lost to Villanova in the opening round of the NIT. The Blue Hens were one of the most feared teams entering the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, as they ended the regular season on an eight-game winning streak. Coach Monte Ross managed to guide his team past the lowly Towson Tigers before it fell to Old Dominion in the quarterfinals to end the NCAA Tournament dreams. The Blue Hens are capable offensively, as they averaged 69.3 ppg, but they also allowed opponents to net 68.2 ppg.
To make a run toward a CBI championship, Delaware will need Devon Saddler and Jamelle Hagins to continue their stellar play. Saddler is the second leading scorer in the CAA with an average of 19.1 ppg. The sophomore shooting guard will look to continue his streak of three straight 20 plus point outings. Hagins grabbed at least five rebounds during all 31 games this season. The junior forward leads the CAA in rebounding with 11.3 boards per game and also contributes 12.6 ppg.
Butler had its run of back-to-back Final Four appearances come to an end when it was eliminated from the Horizon League Tournament, which also ended its streak of two straight league titles. During their previous two seasons, the Bulldogs had similarly slow starts in the regular season but managed to put together strong finishes. Coach Brad Stevens could not pull together a third miracle run this season despite finishing with 20-plus wins for the seventh straight year. Butler lacked the outstanding scorer it has had in the past, which resulted in a greater focus on defense. The Bulldogs were second in the Horizon League in scoring defense with an allowed average of only 60.8 ppg.
The Bulldogs relied on a total team effort this season. Butler will return four of its five starters for next season. The one player leaving however, will be greatly missed. Senior point guard Ronald Nored was not know for his exceptional scoring ability, but he was one of the best floor generals in the conference since he arrived at Butler. Center Andrew Smith leads the team in scoring with 10.7 ppg while Roosevelt Jones pulled down 6.0 rpg.
The pacing of this game is going to be very important. A faster, high-scoring affair will favor Saddler and the Blue Hens. Butler will need their veteran point guard to frustrate Delaware and control the tempo of the game to give the Bulldogs an edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 67, Delaware 63
03/14 10:33:13 ET