Nov 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Butler Bulldogs mascot Hink bumps fists with Butler associate athletic director Jim McGrath in the second half of their Old Spice Classic game against the Washington State Cougars at HP Field House. The Butler Bulldogs beat the Washington State Cougars 76-69. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Old Spice Opportunity: Bulldogs look for signature resume win in Classic Semi-Final vs Oklahoma State

At the start of this season uncertainty surrounded my mind for the Butler Bulldogs.

Not because of the coaching staff or the talent on this current roster, but  because of the tough competition that makes up this new Big East conference.

This led to my radical notions that the Bulldogs would struggle to gain a berth in the NCAA Tournament due to this toughness.

However, as most know, when it comes to making the tourney, it’s all about who you beat.

The stronger the opponent, the more the win matters when the selection committee makes its decisions in March.

That being said, Butler has a golden chance to add an early exclamation point to its resume this afternoon.

The setting?

Old Spice Classic Semi-Final

The Opponent?

The #5 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Far and away the strongest opponent seen to date in the Brandon Miller Era, the Cowboys will challenge every inch of Butler’s young guards with arguably the best front court in the country, (Marcus Smart and Markel Brown).

Despite this, the Bulldogs carry all sorts of momentum following its hard fought victory against Washington State on Thursday.

Specifically speaking, the momentum stems from the phenomenal performances by Kellen Dunham and Khyle Marshall.

Nov 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Butler Bulldogs forward Khyle Marshall (23) is congratulated by fans after their Old Spice Classic game against the Washington State Cougars at HP Field House. The Butler Bulldogs beat the Washington State Cougars 76-69. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The duo combined for 62 of Butler’s 76 points on 21 of Butler’s 27 made field goals in the 76-69 win over Washington State.  In addition, Dunham netted the Old Spice single game scoring record with his 32 points.

Nov 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Butler Bulldogs guard Kellen Dunham (left) is congratulated by center/forward Nolan Berry after their Old Spice Classic game against the Washington State Cougars at HP Field House. The Butler Bulldogs beat the Washington State Cougars 76-69. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

After this breakout game for the Bulldogs, the question that remains is whether or not an encore performance is the only way for them to upset the Cowboys.

In my opinion, no.

Yes, it will be critical for the Bulldogs to utilize Dunham and Marshall at all costs, but Butler has other quality players on the roster in the form of Kameron Woods and Elijah Brown to name of few.

The main area of concern for Butler will be on the defensive end.

Butler allowed Washington State to post 69 points on an impressive 50% shooting from the field.

Going up against a Cowboys unit that is second in the country in points per game, (100.2), and 18th in field goal percentage (51%), the Bulldogs will need to be clicking on all cylinders to pull of the stunner.

Win or lose, this is matchup a blessing in disguise for Butler.

Lose, and the Bulldogs have a learning experience to build on for the rest of the season.

Win, and a signature victory is instantly added to its tournament resume.

Either way, the stage is set for an exciting Black Friday contest.

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Tags: Butler Basketball Butler Bulldogs Kellen Dunham Khyle Marshall Old Spice Classic

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