Show­case pro­grams dom­i­nate mar­quee

An­nual tour­na­ment dar­ling But­ler joins basketball blue­bloods.

Austin American-Statesman - - NCAA TOURNAMENT ROUND OF 16 -

Three of col­lege basketball’s blue­bloods, along with a blue bulldog from In­di­ana that has had lots of suc­cess of its own, have gath­ered in Mem­phis for a mar­quee show­down in the Sweet 16.

North Carolina, Ken­tucky and UCLA are joined by up­start But­ler in the South Re­gional — the only re­gion where the top four seeds all ad­vanced af­ter the open­ing weekend. Top-seeded North Carolina plays But­ler tonight, fol­lowed by No. 2 seed Ken­tucky and third-seeded UCLA fac­ing off in the sec­ond game.

“The glam­our names are” here, North Carolina coach Roy Wil­liams said.

At stake is a spot in the Elite Eight and chance to earn a berth in the Fi­nal Four. These iconic pro­grams have plenty of cham­pi­onship banners hang­ing from the rafters as they look to add yet an­other, with But­ler hop­ing to cap­ture its first.

UCLA (31-4) has the most na­tional cham­pi­onships with 11 — 10 from leg­endary coach John Wooden. Ken­tucky (31-5) of the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence has eight — a quar­tet from Adolph Rupp with one each from Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and John Cali­pari. North Carolina (29-7) of the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence is tied for third with five cham­pi­onships and has been to more Fi­nal Fours (19) than any other school.

And then there’s But­ler (258) of the Big East. The Bulldogs may lack ti­tles, but they have be­come the tour­na­ment dar­lings in re­cent sea­sons reach­ing the na­tional cham­pi­onship game in 2010 and 2011.

“I hap­pen to think right now, But­ler is bet­ter than any of them, and that’s the team we’re get­ting ready to play,” Wil­liams said.

The Bulldogs’ bat­tle against the trio of his­toric pro­grams is only one of the sub­plots of this re­gion. There are well-es­tab­lished coaches, like Cali­pari and Wil­liams. Then there is Steve Al­ford, who hopes coach UCLA to its 12th ti­tle, but won a na­tional ti­tle play­ing at In­di­ana.

There is Chris Holt­mann, 45, in only his third year as a head coach at But­ler.

“Be­tween (Wil­liams) and I, we have eight Fi­nal Fours, two na­tional cham­pi­onships, about 15 Sweet 16s and a ton of con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships and over 900 wins,” Holt­mann quipped. “So, some­body is go­ing to be re­ally calm come open­ing tip, and some­body is go­ing to be re­ally ner­vous. I’ll let you fig­ure that out.”

There’s a pos­si­bil­ity of some high-scor­ing games tonight with three of the top 10 teams in points scored part of the South Re­gion. UCLA leads the na­tion in scor­ing at 90.2 points a game, while Ken­tucky is ninth at 85.2, only slightly ahead of North Carolina at 85.1. But­ler av­er­ages 76.2 points a game — 105th in the na­tion.

Coach Chris Holt­mann, 45, has main­tained the win­ning tra­di­tion at But­ler.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.