Kelan Martin, No. 9 Butler’s second-leading scorer, didn’t score for the first 30 minutes of the game, but he scored eight-straight points in less than a minute that sparked a game-changing, 14-7 spurt that put away No. 8 Texas Tech.
The Bulldogs will advance to the second round of the tournament to face, in all likelihood, No. 1 Virginia.
Martin was responsible for all 14 of the points in that run. After hitting threes on back-to-back possessions, Martin jumped a passing lane and went coast-to-coast for a layup to put Butler up by eight. Two possessions later, he forced another turnover and found Kellen Dunham for a three in transition, and after Tech cut the lead back to 59-55, Martin scored a tough and-one and the Bulldogs would not be threatened the rest of the game.
Dunham finished with 23 points to lead Butler.
The matchup that Butler will likely draw against Virginia — barring No. 16 Hampton making history at the first team to beat a No. 1 seed in the first round — is actually pretty good on paper. The defense that Virginia runs is called the Pack-Line, and it’s designed around keeping the ball from getting into the paint through post-doubles and lots of help-side defense. The Pack-Line instead dares offenses to shoot threes over the top of the defense, and not only does Butler have shooters, but they like to get out in transition, which means they should be able to best Virginia’s defense down the floor.
I also think that Butler will be able to hold their own against Virginia’s perennially underrated offensive attack. Butler’s weakness defensively is their ability to defend guards off the dribble, and UVA doesn’t really have a guard that fits that mold. I’m not sure that they’ll have anyone that can chase Malcolm Brogdon around screens — Will Roosevelt Jones be up to that challenge? — but there aren’t many people that are truly capable of slowing down Brogdon when he gets it going.
Virginia should be able to take care of business, but Butler will make them work for it.