No. 18 Butler ensured that the Big East will at least be an interesting conference race for a while longer as they were able to end No. 1 Villanova’s undefeated run and hand them their first loss since last year’s Big East tournament. The Bulldogs followed that up by going into Washington, D.C. and landing an overtime win over Georgetown.
That’s a good week overall, but it’s made better by the fact that Butler didn’t exactly play their best basketball in either game. Kelan Martin, Butler’s star forward, shot a combined 7-for-23 in the two games. Andrew Chrabacsz never looked dominant in either game. Those are Chris Holtmann’s two horses, but the great thing about this Butler team is that they aren’t just a two-man show.
In D.C. it was freshman Kamar Baldwin that showed up, scoring a career-high 16 points. Sophomore Nate Fowler, a 6-foot-11 center that plays limited minutes off the bench, saw most of the crunch time minutes, scoring the last five points of regulation – which included burying a three from the top of the key with a minute left – to force overtime. Against Villanova, fifth-year senior Kethan Savage came off the bench to score a season-high 13 points, including seven in a game-deciding, 11-2 run late in the game.
Butler is a threat this season not only because they have a couple stars on the roster, but because they can beat anyone in the country and win conference road games on nights those stars aren’t playing like stars.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- Notre Dame: The Irish landed a couple of key wins over the weekend, knocking off both Clemson and Louisville to remain one of just two undefeated teams left in the league, tied with Florida State for first place in the ACC. Notre Dame has been led by Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell all season long, but it was V.J. Beachem who went off for 22 points in the win over Clemson and Steve Vasturia who had 24 points, and the game-winning floater, to knock off Louisville.
- North Carolina: After a solid win in overtime at Clemson during the week, the Tar Heels returned to Chapel Hill and humiliated N.C. State. The Wolfpack, riding hight off a 28-point win over Virginia Tech, lost by 51 points. UNC was up 26-4 in the blink of an eye, and it snowballed from there. The Tar Heels not only righted the ship after an ugly start to ACC play, but they beat their bitter rivals like they owed them money. Not a bad weekend.
- Florida State: It’s time to start taking the Seminoles seriously as ACC contenders. Coming off of a win at Virginia where Dwayne Bacon scored 26 second half points, FSU responded by handling No. 21 Virginia Tech at home without much of an issue on a night where Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jonathan Isaac all had relatively quiet nights.
- Oregon: The Ducks struggled through the first six weeks of the season as they waited to get Dillon Brooks back to full strength. When he was back, we saw what this group could become, as they ended the undefeated seasons of both UCLA and USC. This past week, however, Brooks was a no-show. He struggled against Washington and was ejected against Washington State six minutes in, but it didn’t matter. Tyler Dorsey scored 28 points on Thursday and Chris Boucher had 29 points on Saturday as the Ducks won a pair of league road games by an average of 23 points.
- Syracuse: And we all thought the Orange were dead in the water. Syracuse bounced back from a blowout loss at the hands of Boston College with their two best performances of the season, beating Miami by 15 and knocking off Pitt by 11. How? Jim Boeheim has figured out what his best five is and rides that lineup. He’s played just six guys the last two games, and Taurean Thompson has managed just 15 minutes combined.