INDIANAPOLIS – It was a moment of happiness, then confusion, then humor.
“The Butler Bulldogs, Brad Stevens…” read the commentator on the CBS Selection Show as it appeared that the team seated in the Wildman Room at Hinkle Fieldhouse was about to know their destination.
Then popped up the logo, name, and 2nd seed for the Miami Hurricanes.
“At first we thought ‘What are we going to be the 15th seed,'” joked Butler guard Rotnei Clarke when he heard the Bulldogs name but didn’t see it on the television.
Perhaps then the Bulldogs would be on the opposite as a seventh-seed, but Illinois was next to pop up with Colorado below them. There was a bit of confusion and pause as players looked around wondering what was going on. Then came a little bit of laughter as their status in the NCAA Tournament was in a bizarre limbo.
“Everyone was confused and laughing,” said forward Khyle Marshall lightheartedly of the mishap, but the only had to wait a few more minutes before their surprise would end.
Eventually their name popped up in the Lexington section of the East Region, seeded sixth and set up with a game against 11th seeded Bucknell in the first round on Thursday at 12:40 P.M. in Lexington. The selection is a bit sweeter for the Bulldogs than in years past considering the team missed the NCAA Tournament in 2012, ending a run of five consecutive tournament appearances.
“We were pretty disappointed,” said senior center Andrew Smith-who participated in two Final Fours before the team failed to qualify last season. “Being back this year is obviously very exciting and we’re pretty happy with the sixth seed and we’re excited to start getting ready to prepare for Bucknell.”
Doing so, like the selection day itself, will include a bit of mystery since the Bulldogs haven’t faced the Bison this season. That might not be the case should the Bulldogs get past their second round opponent and advance to the round of 32. Third-seeded Marquette isn’t an unknown to this teams, since the Bulldogs beat the Golden Eagles 72-71 on November 19th at the Maui Invitational on a last second shot by Clarke.
Should the road continue Butler could face top seed Indiana in the Elite Eight. The Bulldogs beat the Hoosiers their first loss of the season on December 15th, using an Alex Barlow bucket in the final seconds of overtime to beat them 88-86 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The cautious Bulldogs were careful not to look too far ahead, especially head coach Brad Stevens.
“Beating Bucknell is going to be hard enough,” said Stevens when asked of his team’s familiarity with the Hoosiers specifically. “It’s such a long road. I have no idea whose outside our four teams in that pod. I don’t remember who is in the bracket, I don’t care who is in the bracket, you’ve got to beat a really good Bucknell team, just a chance to advance and then you’ve got to beat a really good team in the second round and if you’re lucky enough to do that, you just keep playing good teams.”
At least at the end of the day they found out where they would be on the computer screen.