The Butler Bulldogs took a week off after returning from Alaska before returning to the court on Saturday for a date with Butler graduate Thad Matta and his Ohio State Buckeyes. Butler's perfect record looked in doubt at halftime, they were down 10 and playing poorly. They missed their first 15 threes, turned the ball over eight times and generally spent the first 20 minutes looking like they didn't belong on the same court with anybody above the community college level.
But the second half was different business altogether. The Bulldogs outscored the Buckeyes 45-16 and ran away with a 65-46 win to improve to 7-0 and win their fourth straight game against a power conference outfit. They discovered a new star in the process. Freshman forward Matt Howard scored 23 points and outplayed OSU's more heralded frosh Kostas Koufos. Howard balanced the late-arriving outside threats of A.J. Graves and Mike Green, the defense keyed up and forced 24 turnovers and Butler proved they can win even on nights they don't have their "A" game. They begin Horizon play this week with dates at Detroit and Wright State.
The rest of the winners and losers are after the jump.
- Virginia Commonwealth looked set for a trip to the other half of this wrap-up after losing to Hampton on Thursday. The Duke-slayers of last April have struggled to find their footing in the early going but found themselves on the top of the ledger after beating Maryland 85-76 at the BB&T Classic. Jamal Shuler had 30 points for the Rams, Eric Maynor chipped in 25 in front of a crowd chanting "CAA! CAA!" in Washington, D.C.
- Tommy Amaker found that nothing tastes quite so sweet as revenge when his Harvard Crimson rolled his ex-employers from Ann Arbor 62-51 in Boston on Saturday. Harvard lost its two leading scorers from last season and isn't expected to challenge for the Ivy title but this win likely will carry Amaker through his first season with good feelings.
- Maryland-Baltimore County is making a bid for some attention around the beltway. They might not rival Georgetown but went 3-0 this week by beating George Washington, Morgan State and American to move up the ranks of area schools. They are winning behind a fierce four-headed monster. Brian Hodges, Ray Barbosa, Darryl Proctor and Cavell Johnson all score more than 15 points a game for the 6-1 Retrievers.
- George Mason couldn't make it a CAA twofer at the BB&T, falling 68-65 to East Carolina. ECU had lost seven straight games agains D-1 opponents before knocking off the Patriots, who were undone by 22% shooting from three-point range.
- The life of a D-1 independent isn't easy so there's some sympathy for the New Jersey Institute of Technology which took woodshed beatings from Rider and Maine this week to fall to 0-8 on the young season.
- Southern Illinois needs to start playing better basketball. Yes, Indiana is a good team but the Salukis offense is moving in the wrong direction over the past two games. Their defense was better against the Hoosiers but missing 13-of-14 from three and getting outrebounded by 11 will equal losses against all levels of competition.
Previously on FanHouse:
West Coast Mid Major Post Mortem