Butler vs. Bradley: Cinderella Madness Simulated College Basketball Tournament
WhatIfSports.com and CollegeHoops.net have partnered up to bring you Cinderella Madness 2012.
This college basketball simulation tournament features 16 of the most memorable Cinderella stories from the past eight seasons. We invited teams outside the Big Six conferences seeded seventh or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond in their bracket to participate.
Utilizing our award-winning college basketball simulation engine, we "played" each matchup 501 times.
No Gordon Hayward, but Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard were back as key figures for the Bulldogs, who also relied on tough defender Ronald Nored at the point.
After a three-game losing streak that culminated with a 62-60 loss at Youngstown State on February 3rd, Butler would reel off 14-straight wins to reach the title game for the second-straight season.
The Bulldogs relied on a stout defense and timely shooting to make their run, with Howard's bucket as time expired beating Old Dominion to set up a third-round matchup with top seed Pittsburgh. But the good fortune ran out in the title game, where the Bulldogs shot the lowest percentage for a finalist in the modern era.
Jim Les' alma mater was one of the more surprising entries into the tournament field in 2006 as they boasted a pedestrian 11-7 mark in MVC play. But the Braves got hot at the right time, winning seven straight to reach the MVC tournament final, with the seventh win being a 60-52 triumph over regular season champ Wichita State.
They would rebound from a loss to Southern Illinois to beat Kansas and Pittsburgh thanks in part to two performances from Patrick O'Bryant that likely cemented his status as a lottery pick. O'Bryant was one of four Bradley players to average double figures with the high-flying Marcellus Sommerville leading the way.
Bradley had an RPI of 29 and a strength of schedule of 61, likely bolstered by the overall strength of the MVC. Bradley's season ended in the Sweet 16, where the team fell 80-64 to top-seeded Memphis.
-Raphielle Johnson, CollegeHoops.net
Butler's Howard was known for his scrappy play, over-sized t-shirt under the jersey and at times, proud proprietor of upper lip whiskers that understandably required a Facebook fan page.
He averaged 14.8 points per game during the Bulldogs' run in the 2011 NCAA tournament, but in our Cinderella Madness opening round, Howard was M.I.A. The big man scored six points (1-7 FG) in 29 minutes as Bradley renewed their run in the opening round of Cinderella Madness.
Mack (20 points) led the first-half charge as the Bulldogs built an eight-point lead with six minutes to go before the half. Bradley's Sommerville rallied the Braves and tied the game before Chase Stigall buried a three-ball as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Mack's bucket two minutes into the second half boosted Butler's lead back to seven, 37-30. But over the next eight minutes, Bradley rattled off a 19-9 run and took a 49-46 lead.
With four minutes and change on the clock, and still trailing by three, Butler's Zach Hahn buried a triple from the right wing to tie the game up at 59. A couple possessions later, Tony Bennett (12 points) knocked down a jumper to give the Braves the lead for good. Bradley converted their free throws down the stretch to upset the top seed 70-66.
Player of the game: Patrick O'Bryant (18 PTS, 8 REB, 3 BLK)
Winning percentage of 501 simulations: '06 Bradley, 57.9 percent-'11 Butler, 42.1 percent
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