While the details as to why Butler’s move to the Atlantic 10 was accelerated to this fall haven’t been stated publicly, it is known that the Bulldog program has a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.
CBSSports.com reported that the presidents wanted to make Butler’s teams ineligible for all league tournament titles, which would have kept Butler men’s basketball team from having a chance to seek an automatic NCAA tourney bid.
Stevens said he didn’t know if that was true. Collier declined to comment on the report, citing an agreement with the Horizon League that allows Butler to leave the conference immediately. League officials have repeatedly said the agreement does not allow them to discuss Butler’s impending departure, either.
One task for Brad Stevens: finding four games for a schedule that goes from accommodating 18 conference games to 16, which is the number the Atlantic 10 will stay at despite now having 16 members.
There’s also a game against a non-Division I member that had to be scrapped per A-10 rules and an ESPN BracketBusters match-up they’ll no longer have to play since they aren’t in a participating conference.
But in addition to the schedule there’s the race to become familiar with their new conference opponents. While Butler has recently played both VCU and Xavier, there are a number of A-10 teams that they haven’t seen.
“Most years, you play about 20 teams because of the two rounds in league play,” Stevens said. “Next year, we’re going to play 28 or 29 teams and that’s a heck of a challenge. One of the interesting things is that when you’re playing everyone twice, that’s kind of a different coaching package for the second round of opponents. Now we’re just going to be playing them all once.”
With the A-10’s history in the NCAA tournament and their tendency to earn multiple bids Butler felt it was in their best interest to make the move.
Any inconvenience that comes as a result of having to make the move with just months to spare is something they seem more than willing to deal with.