In the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, while everyone else was focusing on historic upsets and wrecked brackets, the state of Indiana witnessed a fun battle between two of its favorites.
In the East region, the 2-seed Purdue Boilermakers – representing West Lafayette, IN – faced off against the 10-seed Butler Bulldogs – from Indianapolis, IN. It was a fun and wild game that came down to the final moments before the favorites came out on top.
Prior to the game, besides focusing on the in-state rivalry aspect of the contest, the main story line focused on Purdue senior center Isaas Haas. Haas took a bad fall in the opening round, breaking his elbow. There was some question about his availability for the Butler game up until tip off. Haas tried to give it go with a heavy, bulky brace, but he had little range of motion, and the NCAA didn’t approve the brace for competition regardless.
That left Purdue short-handed and forced to play smaller than normal. It was freshman Matt Haarms who picked up the slack inside, playing the most minutes in a game in his young career.
Butler received a Herculean effort from senior Kelan Martin – 29 points on 18 field-goal attempts – but it wasn’t enough to defeat the balanced attack of the Boilermakers. Purdue finished with four players in double figures and escaped into the Sweet 16 with a 76-73 victory over their foes from Indianapolis.
The Butler Bulldogs men’s basketball team did enough in the regular season to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, but they still want to gain some momentum entering the tournament. Getting a win or two in the Big East tournament will give Butler this momentum while also increasing their chances of winning a national title. Butler’s first game in the Big East tournament took place on Thursday, March 8, when they played the Seton Hall Pirates.
Butler and Seton Hall are both great basketball teams, so this game was expected to be extremely close. The result of the first half was completely unexpected. Despite shooting well and limiting turnovers, Butler was down eight points entering halftime. The Bulldogs did not get discouraged, and they slowly started to get back into the game in the second half.
It only took a few minutes for Butler to make it a one-possession game, but it took them nearly 17 minutes to tie the game. The game remained tied with one minute to play until Henry Bradley hit a layup to give Butler their first lead of the second half. Seton Hall regained the lead with 12 seconds left on the clock. The Bulldogs looked doomed after they missed the go-ahead shot, but Tyler Wideman secured the offensive rebound and successfully scored to give Butler the 75-74 victory.
Butler can add another impressive win to their resume when they play the Villanova Wildcats in the semifinals of the Big East tournament on Friday, March 9.
It would be an understatement to say that the Notre Dame men’s basketball team is having a disappointing season. They are likely going to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years. The Fighting Irish had the chance to get their first big win of the season when they went on the road to face the North Carolina Tar Heels yesterday, but a late meltdown stopped them from pulling off the big upset.
Notre Dame trailed most of the first half, but they have to be very proud of their performance against one of the best teams in the country. A balanced performance on both sides of the court helped the Fighting Irish trail by only four points at halftime. Notre Dame continued to hang with the Tar Heels for most of the second half. They were still only four points down with just under six minutes left in the game, but that is when the team completely fell apart.
Notre Dame was simply unable to hit their shots down the stretch. They only scored three points over the final six minutes of the game. The poor shooting let North Carolina cruise to an easy victory despite playing in a very tough game for 34 minutes. The Fighting Irish ultimately fell to the Tar Heels 83-66. Notre Dame will not have to wait long before they can put this difficult loss behind them. The team will travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachussetts, to play the Boston College Eagles on Saturday, February 17.