How to beat the Butler Bulldogs
VCU needs to push the tempo and force turnovers to advance to the title game
In an NCAA tournament full of surprises, Butler still holds an important distinction among the Final Four survivors: The Bulldogs have gone the longest without losing. This is not insignificant when one considers that Kentucky (10), Connecticut (nine) and Virginia Commonwealth (five) have won a combined 24 games in a row.
The Bulldogs, though, haven't fallen since an inexplicable three-game losing streak concluded Feb. 3 at Youngstown State. Since then, Butler has reeled off 13 victories in a row -- not nearly as impressive as the 24-game winning streak it toted into last year's Final Four, but still pretty impressive considering the staggering unpredictability of the 2011 season and tournament.
Looking back at their nine losses, a pattern similar to 2010 emerges. All but three of their conquerors forced Butler to play at a faster pace than Brad Stevens prefers. The Bulldogs average a pedestrian 64.6 possessions per game (270th in Division I), so they were particularly ill-equipped when Louisville (84 possessions), Duke (72 possessions), Milwaukee (76, second meeting) and Valparaiso (73, second meeting) upped the tempo against them.
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