Butler (25-7) vs. La Salle (21-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 15, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: CSN-PHI, MA, ROOT, FS-MW. Home Record: Butler 14-2, La Salle 13-2. Away Record: Butler 7-4, La Salle 8-6. Neutral Record: Butler 4-1, La Salle 0-0. Conference Record: Butler 11-5, La Salle 11-5. Series Record: Butler leads, 6-3.
GAME NOTES: The Butler Bulldogs look to continue their trend of being the toughest March Madness squad in the nation as they tangle with the fourth- seeded La Salle Explorers in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Coach Brad Stevens led the Bulldogs to three Horizon League Tournament championships in five years and also a pair of second place finishes in the national tournament. Butler began its 2013 postseason run on Thursday with a 73-67 win over Dayton. Rotnei Clarke scored 21 points to pace the squad, while Andrew Smith added 18 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs, who have won three straight games.
Clarke (16.7 ppg, fourth in A-10) did not play in January's matchup at La Salle. A 42 percent shooter from beyond the arc, he is good for 3.5 threes a night. Smith is next in line with 11.1 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds per tilt. The Bulldogs are among the conference's best defensive teams, ranking fourth in scoring defense (63.8 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.415). They have shown they can play with anybody this season, defeating both Indiana and Gonzaga.
The winner of this game will advance to take on the victor of the Saint Louis- Charlotte game in the semifinals. Butler owns a 6-3 all-time series lead versus La Salle. The Explorers earned a 54-53 victory in Philadelphia on Jan. 23 in the only regular season meeting of the 2012-13 campaign. However, Butler did not have Clarke for that tilt.
La Salle (21-8, 11-5) won seven of its last eight games before suffering a 78-54 rout at Saint Louis in its regular-season finale. La Salle has never won an Atlantic 10 Tournament and owns a 9-15 record in its history in the event. Dr. John Giannini's team was one of the most impressive in the conference as it notched victories over Villanova, Rider, Iona, Richmond, Butler, VCU and Saint Joseph's. La Salle is getting it done primarily due to its exploits at the offensive end of the court, as the team boasts four double-digit scorers en route to 72.9 ppg. Defensively, it yields 65.9 ppg, while forcing nearly 15 turnover per game.
Ramon Galloway (17.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.7 apg) spearheads the Explorers' scoring effort, while also producing in other aspects. Tyreek Duren (15.0 ppg, 3.4 apg) gives the Explorers a great one-two punch in the backcourt, while Jerrell Wright (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) handles things up front. La Salle will be without center Steve Zack, who is unavailable due to a strained foot.
With Zack out, look for Smith to have a field day on the inside. Clarke's presence in this game will make Butler the favorite to advance, although Duren and Galloway will not make it easy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 68, La Salle 63
03/15 10:32:05 ET