VCU thoroughly embarrassed No. 20 Butler on Saturday afternoon, taking them to the woodshed for 40 minutes as the Bulldogs couldn’t find an answer for the Rams’ ‘Havoc’.
The final score was 84-52, with an added emphasis coming from that number just to the left of Butler’s name that doesn’t happen to show up next to VCU’s name. In other words, when an unranked team blows out a ranked team, people take notice. And when that ranked team happens to be Butler, who owns wins over the current No. 1 team in the country (Indiana) and the team that everyone expects to take over the No. 1 spot on Monday (Gonzaga), it becomes a major story.
But before anyone goes and crowns VCU and relegates Butler back to the CBI, let’s keep everything in perspective.
For starters, rankings don’t actually mean anything. You want to look at standings that matter, look at Kenpom. He has VCU 21st in the country; Butler’s 52nd. Butler’s entire resume is built on three buzzer-beating wins: Rotnei Clarke’s 25-foot runner vs. Marquette in the Maui Invitational, Alex Barlow’s floater in the lane in overtime against Indiana, and Roosevelt Jones’ steal and running one-hander against Gonzaga. Three shots are the difference between a No. 20 ranking for Butler and the bubble.
VCU also just so happens to be the worst possible matchup for the Bulldogs. To beat the Rams, you need strong ball-handlers to beat their press and a point guard that is able to get into and execute your sets. Butler has Rotnei Clarke (not a natural point guard), Alex Barlow (a former walk-on) and Kellen Dunham (a freshman jump-shooter), and their game-plan coming in was to use Roosevelt Jones (a forward) to beat the press.
A lot of live-ball turnovers that lead directly to layups. The halftime score was 45-21. VCU had 24 points off of turnovers. You do the math.
So while I agree that Butler is overrated and will likely be overseeded, let’s not overreact here. Their three biggest wins of the season are as quintessentially Butler as it gets. This is a team that’s known for their ability to find ways to win even when they get outplayed.
Getting smacked around by a really good team — that just so happens to be an awful matchup — on the road in a raucous environment is not a reason to get off the Butler bandwagon.
But hey, maybe we should start talking a little bit more about Shaka Smart’s club.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.