Butler Basketball: Could Bulldogs Really Be a No. 1 Seed in NCAA Tourney?

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJanuary 20, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 19: Roosevelt Jones #21 of the Butler Bulldogs celebrates after a last second shot against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 19, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Butler defeated Gonzaga 64-63. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Butler Bulldogs are having a dream season. They beat two top 10 ranked teams in dramatic fashion. The first win came in an exhilarating 88-86 overtime victory over the then-top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers. Former walk-on Alex Barlow scored the game-winning basket with just under three seconds left.

Then on Saturday night, ESPN College Gameday came to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time ever. The Bulldogs hosted No. 8 Gonzaga in the 9 p.m. primetime matchup. It was huge to showcase Butler like that, and the team didn't disappoint with Roosevelt Jones' last second floater to give the Bulldogs a 64-63 victory over Gonzaga.

With both of those thrilling victories and 14 more wins, Butler sits 16-2 and in perfect position to possibly grab one of the four No. 1 seeds in March's NCAA Tournament.

Butler will likely be 26-2 going into the epic battle with conference foe VCU on March 2nd. The rematch of the first national semifinal in Houston two years ago will be a showcase that day. If Butler can pull that win out and beat Massachusetts and Xavier to close out the regular season, it will surely be in conversation for a No. 1 seed.

Really, there's not much competition for the top seeds this season. Duke, Indiana, Michigan, Louisville, Syracuse, Kansas, Arizona and Butler are the only teams that will be in that conversation. The first seven on that list are very capable of getting beat and will likely fall at least one to two more times the remainder of the season if not more.

Butler has the luxury of being in a very good Atlantic 10 conference, but being the top dog makes it easier for them to win. They're clearly the best in their new conference, and since they're in one of top seven conferences in basketball, they won't get penalized like they did in the past when playing in the Horizon League.

They also will be in consideration of the top seed by how good they are. What I like about Butler is they're an all-around great team. They don't have many flaws.

It all starts at the top with head coach Brad Stevens. He's arguably the best coach in the nation right now. He motivates his team so well and makes the right adjustments nearly 100 percent of the time.

That trickles down to the players as Butler is one of the most physical teams in the nation. They're not afraid to body teams up and make it difficult to score. They have one of the best defenses in America and play great on ball defense.

They also play well together as a team defense. Their communication and movement is superb. They just know how to work well together and rotate to shooters.

Another area where they're good is rebounding. They always seem to have at least three guys crashing the boards with everyone putting his body on a man. Again they work together as a team collectively when crashing the boards to make sure teams don't get second opportunities.

Then on offense, they're among the most efficient in the nation. Roteni Clarke is the best pure shooter in all of basketball as he can stroke it from anywhere on the court. His fellow running mate, freshman Kellen Dunham, is a deadly shooter as well. If you give either of these two space, they will make you pay.

Add in Andrew Smith in the middle and Roosevelt Jones, who doesn't have a great shot but is effective at getting to the rim and keeping possessions alive with his hustle, and this Bulldogs team just knows how to win.

Butler hasn't lost in over two months, and that momentum will carry them a long way. I've seen a lot of basketball, and I think this Bulldogs team can beat anyone. They're the best in the nation right now and honestly could dismantle Duke if they met.

Don't be surprised come March when Butler is in No. 1 seed talks. How great would it be if they could get one of the top two seeds in the Indianapolis region?