Butler has done it again. The Bulldogs are returning to the Final Four after their thrilling 74-71 overtime win against the Florida Gators in the Elite 8. Just when you thought their success had run out, somehow this group has done it again and all of America is loving them for what they are doing.
The reason behind their success could definitely be coach Brad Stevens. But in my opinion, the main reasons for their success are their veterans, G Shelvin Mack and PF Matt Howard. These guys are examples of talents who were overlooked by big-time programs and made their way at a smaller school. And these two have help turn Butler into a powerful presence in college basketball.
Through their struggles and in their successes, Mack has been the constant with them. He was overlooked by the big-time in the state of Kentucky coming out of high school and he obviously had a point to prove when he went to Butler. One thing you have to have is great guard play to be a good team and Mack stood up all year to competition from bigger schools. You could make an argument that he has been their best player all year.
PF Matt Howard has gotten it done in crunch time. It seems like he's been at Butler forever. I can say that at times I thought he was just a foul-prone big guy who couldn't really produce on the prime-time level, but he has changed my mind. He is a big guy with three-point range that can finish inside. And with him and Mack, Butler has the inside/outside combination that teams have to respect.
With Butler in the Final Four, they must be respected and accounted for. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up in the Title game again or if they win the National Title. This team has proved that at any level, an elite program can be made. Butler has proved that it isn't just the players, but its the program that breeds their success.