2016 Butler Bulldogs College Hoops Betting Season Forecast

Posted by Alex Murphy on July 8, 2015 in

Butler has gone through two coaching changes since its appearance in the NCAA tournament final and has also changed conferences twice. Its 2013-2014 campaign was the worst that the program had seen in twenty years. However, its showing in 2014-2015 and it’s returning roster indicate that the Bulldogs will contend in the Big East in 2016. The program has stabilized. The Bulldogs (23-11) finished tied for second in the Big East after being picked to finish seventh by the league’s coaches. They returned to the tournament NCAA Basketball odds after a one-year absence. Coach Chris Holtmann appears locked in after getting the position on a permanent basis in January. (Butler is a private school and did not reveal the contents of the contract, but it is a multi year deal). “I think the overriding feeling for everyone around our program is tremendous optimism and hope for continued success,” Holtmann said.

2016 Butler Bulldogs College Hoops Betting Season Forecast

Woods and Barlow will be missed. Barlow went from walk-on to one of the better point guards in the Big East, a terrific on-ball defender who used intelligence and tenacity to finish second in the league in steals. The 6-9 Woods was a defensive force on the blocks and tied for first in the Big East in rebounding. “Both guys that logged heavy minutes leave great voids,” he said. “But I am excited about developing some of the young guys in front of us. That’s the natural progression of college basketball.” Tyler Lewis, who sat out this season after transferring from North Carolina State, is the heir apparent to Barlow. Lewis should be more than ready after starting at an ACC school, although Barlow’s defense and leadership will be difficult to replace.

Moving on after Woods

Woods’ replacement is less obvious. It could be Tyler Wideman, who moved into the starting lineup for four games when Andrew Chrabascz was out with a broken hand. It also could be Nate Fowler, a 6-10 incoming freshman from Cincinnati Moeller High School. Fowler missed his senior season at Moeller due to a foot injury, but Holtmann expects him to be ready when he arrives at Butler.

Few Big East teams will have a returning duo as talented as Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. Dunham earned first-team all-league honors this season. Jones earned second-team. Both are potential candidates for Big East player of the year next season. Chrabascz has improved steadily since arriving at Butler and became the much-needed third scorer to complement Dunham and Jones this season.

Butler Freshmen Moving Up

Holtmann said all three freshmen — Wideman, Kelan Martin and Jackson Davis — showed enough to convince him all will be significant contributors in the future. Martin was the first player off the bench by season’s end and looks destined to be a big-time scorer. Reserve forward Austin Etherington provides depth. Don’t assume the roster is set. Butler still has three scholarships available and Holtmann would like to land two guards for the Class of 2015, particularly a ball handler. He and the rest of the coaching staff will keep an eye on the transfer wire. A major recruiting target continues to be Southport center Joey Brunk, a member of the class of 2016. Expect Holtmann to follow him closely on the summer basketball circuit.

The Bulldogs will face some familiar challenges next season. They don’t look to be terribly deep again. They also won’t be overly big. They’ll have to rely on strong defensive play. Advanced metrics consistently rated them as one of the top 15 teams in defensive efficiency in the nation this season.

Butler’s Schedule Breakdown

The non-conference schedule again will be formidable. It include a trip to Cincinnati and a game against Purdue in the Crossroads Classic, two NCAA tournament teams. Tennessee will visit Hinkle Fieldhouse and the Bulldogs will play in the Puerto Rico Tip Off Classic, which includes Utah, another NCAA tourney team. But they’ll enter the season under much happier circumstances. Holtmann, an assistant during the 2013-14 season, took over on an interim basis when Brandon Miller took a medical leave just before the start of preseason practice. He got the job on a full-time basis in January and has become immensely popular among fans and boosters.

He’ll be sure to thank Woods, Barlow and Aldridge for their contributions on their way out the door. They helped set up what looks to be a promising future. “You look back and you reflect on what a special year it was in so many ways,” Holtmann said. “Just really thankful this group was able to make such dramatic improvements in the Big East.”