4. Butler (23-8, 12-6/Big East)–Like Winthrop, the Bulldogs were NCAA Tournament regulars as a mid-major, back when they used to dominate the Horizon League. Now in the Big East, they’ll be expected to dispatch of their former mid-major brethren without much trouble. That should be do-able.
Butler handed No. 1 overall seed and defending national champ Villanova two of its three losses this season. They also lost to St. John’s, Indiana State and Georgetown. So, there’s a lot of room between the Bulldogs’ ceiling and their floor. (Not sure about the roof).
This team is led by a trio of scorers in 6-7 junior forward Kelan Martin (16.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg) 6-7 senior Andrew Chrabascz (11 ppg) and 6-0 freshman guard Kamar Baldwin.
13. Winthrop (26-6, 15-3/Big South)–For a while there, March just didn’t feel exactly right.
Ever since Gregg Marshall left Rock Hill, S.C., for Wichita, Kansas, one of the most familiar names on the bracket every March has been missing. And it made college basketball-carers like us a little sad.
But now, everything is back in its natural state of things, as Winthrop is back in the NCAA Tournament.
The Eagles are there for the first time since 2010, after shutting down Chris Clemons (who scored 51 to knock out UNC-Asheville!) and Campbell in the Big South championship game last Sunday.
From 1999-2010, Winthrop advanced to the Dance 10 times. They even pulled off a first-round upset over Notre Dame in 2007.
These Eagles are led by a 5-7 dynamo in senior guard Keon Johnson, who puts up 22.4 points per game. 6-8 junior Xavier Cooks is a big-time player as well, putting up 16.2 points and 9 rebounds per.
Head coach Pat Kelsey is a fiery, emotional guy, and a wonderful motivator. He’ll give the Eagles a shot to compete.
PREDICTION: Winthrop is a solid mid-major team, but they don’t have enough to knock off Butler. We’ve got the Bulldogs handling them, but losing to Cinderella squad Middle Tennessee State in the second round. Hey, they don’t call it “March Madness” for nothing.