Da'Sean Butler is a great player. He is the undisputed leader of this West Virgina team, and he has filled that role to perfection. He has average just under 18 points per game, over six rebounds a game, and over three assists. He has also been very clutch for the Mountaineers, making many game-winning shots this season.
But is Da'Sean Butler good enough to lead West Virginia to the Final Four?
I don't think so.
You usually need certain criteria to be successful in the much anticipated NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
You need a leader. You need to have one player leading your team through the tournament if you want to be successful. You cannot expect to win if you have three or four guys wondering if it's their team.
You need to be able to make free throws. This is a smaller criteria, but I feel it's essential to winning close games. If you want to beat the big number one and two seeds, or if you want to hold off the three and four seeds, you need to convert at the line. Making 18-of-20 shots versus the opponents 13-of-22 can make the difference in a hard fought contest.
You need to be able to rebound. If you play hard on defense and hold off their offense from converting the majority of their field goals, you have to then finish the job and catch the rebounds. You can easily play your best game on defense but still lose in the tournament because you couldn't stop the opponent from racking up offensive rebounds and points in the paint.
You also need to be able to beat good teams. If you are 22-5, you know you have a good record. But if you've beaten 20 teams that won't even make the tournament, beaten two teams that are not favored to win past round two, and then lost to the 5 teams on your schedule that are legitimate tournament threats, you should not expect to win many games in the tournament.
Now, were does West Virginia currently stand based on these criteria?
Well, they're three for four.
They have their leader in Da'Sean Butler. He is fully capable of leading this team wherever they want to go. The question is whether he'll get it done.
They are solid at the line. They are currently at 69.4 percent behind the free throw line. I like to have final four contenders to be at 70 percent or above, and West Virginia is just under 70 percent.
They can rebound. They are currently at 42.3 rebounds per contest. I like that number a lot. My number for final four contenders is 40 boards a game, and West Virgina really handles the glass with their 42.3.
But what they can't seem to do is beat great teams. So far, West Virginia's most impressive win is when they beat Ohio State on January 23, 71-65. They have had four different opportunities to beat other contenders throughout this season, but have fallen short every time. They have lost to Pittsburgh, Villanova, Syracuse, and Purdue.
West Virginia is a good team. They're just not a Final Four team. They have all the tools and talent to have success in the tournament, but not not a lot of success. Picking West Virginia to advance to the Final Four is very risky considering their lack of success against the top teams in the nation this season.
The Elite Eight isn't out of the question for the Mountaineers, but that is as far as they go in the Big Dance.