College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 27, 2010
The Butler Bulldogs advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history with a 63-56 win over the #2 seed, Kansas State, but their emergence from the West region was by no means a fluke.
The Bulldogs knocked off four good teams to reach the pinnacle of college basketball. After first and second round wins over UTEP and Murray State - who took the Bulldogs to the limit - Butler downed Syracuse, the region's top seed. Through those first four rounds, Horizon League Player of the Year Gordon Hayward has provided backbone, scoring and rebounding, but his effort against the Wildcats on Saturday was his best game of the tournament, registering game-highs with 22 points and 9 boards.
Hayward and the Bulldogs are a dead-serious contender to take the whole shooting match, especially with the decimated brackets which by Sunday afternoon will have wiped out 5/6ths of the top 12 seeds, including either all of the 1s or all of the 3s, pending the outcome of the South region final between #1 Duke and #3 Baylor. Butler will get a bit of a break, playing the winner of the Midwest region, either #6 Tennessee or #5 Michigan State, though either team will give the Bulldogs a good game.