When we saw this game on the early-season calendar, we knew right away what the angle would be — the media darling mid-major of the last couple of years in Davidson taking on the presumptive new one in Butler. The changing of the guard probably already happened, though, with 2008-09 being the bridge season. The two teams played last year at Davidson as part of the Bracketbusters on February 21, and Butler took advantage of a slowed Stephen Curry (coming off a layoff with an ankle injury) to pull away in the second stanza to win fairly easily. Gordon Hayward was fantastic with 27/9 in a dominant inside/outside effort, while his Davidson counterpart Stephen Curry struggled from deep (2-13) in a difficult situation where Davidson’s ship appeared to be sinking and Curry was heroically trying to keep it afloat.
Of course, this year Butler is the home team and they return virtually everyone, while Davidson lost Curry as the #7 pick in the NBA Draft (along with Andrew Lovedale and Max Paulhus Gosselin). On paper, Butler should roll, but Bob McKillop’s teams aren’t in the habit of getting smoked, so it’ll be interesting to see how his remaining nucleus of Will Archambault, Bryant Barr and Stephen Rossiter have progressed and how the team plans on running their offense without the spectacular Curry dominating the ball this year. In any event, we’re always happy to give mid-major programs who have national aspirations our coverage. Join us on Saturday for some hoops from Hinkle.