So much has been made of the changes from last season to this that I figured maybe it’s a good time to take a minute to reflect back in a time when so many people are looking forward to this season. It doesn’t hurt that last season was such a great and memorable one.
Perhaps the first big moment came when things looked bleak late against Marquette in Maui. The Maui Invitational is perennially one of the best non-conference tournaments and Butler wound up making the biggest mark on the 2012 tournament with Rotnei Clarke’s game-winner against the Golden Eagles.
Not only did it play on a loop on ESPN all season, but it also gave the Bulldogs the chance to prove themselves on a national stage against a then top ten team in North Carolina. Butler dominated them. It take a late run for the Tar Heels to bring it back a respectable final score, but it was obvious who the better team was on that night. Butler put it on North Carolina all night before moving to the Maui Invitational Championship against Illinois. And despite not being able to take home the crown, Butler didn’t leave Hawaii before making a bang in a very prominent national tournament.
For some, one win against a top ten team is something to hang your hat on for an entire season. Butler had another chance at a top ten team though in December against Indiana. The Hoosiers were the clear preseason number one in the country and had run through their schedule with no losses up to that point. Well, short story: that changed.
Alex Barlow’s shot will be remembered for a long time as he got around Indiana’s Jordan Hulls and finished the game.
So now two very exciting finishes against ranked opponents and then the win over North Carolina as well. What a season right? Well, they still weren’t done. There was still a little time for some “Hinkle Magic” when yet another top ten team came to Indiana to face the Bulldogs.
Number 8 Gonzaga was storming through its schedule with an eight game winning streak and a 17-2 overall record when it came to face Butler. That all changed though after Butler student Kevin Schwartz hit a half-court shot on College Gameday to start the day and Roosevelt Jones knocked in his own buzzer beating floater to finish it off.
The 2012-13 season ended a little too soon when the Bulldogs fell to Marquette in the Round of 32, but there is no doubt that it was a memorable one. Three wins against top ten teams, including the number one ranked team in the nation, and a runner-up performance in one of the nation’s most prestigious non-conference tournaments. This season sure has a lot to live up to if it hopes to capture the amount of magic last season brought to Bulldog fans everywhere. Don’t doubt this program’s ability to do just that, though.