MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Butler will enter Saturday with an all-time mark of 9-0 against lower seeds in the NCAA Tournament and a chance to make it a perfect 10-for-10.
The four-seed Bulldogs will take on 12-seed Middle Tennessee State at 7:10 p.m. eastern time, Saturday in Milwaukee.
“We know this is gonna be a great challenge,” said senior Andrew Chrabascz. “They’re an unbelievable team. Very tough program. They work hard every single possession. We know that it’s gonna be a challenge, but we’re ready for it.”
2017 marks the third year in a row Butler is in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs won their first round game the previous two years but got bounced in round two both times. A win Saturday would put Butler back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011.
“(The players) are hungry to make that happen,” said head coach Chris Holtmann. “I think if you put yourself in position enough, it’s going to happen.
“We’re going to have to play really tough and really sound to give ourselves a chance, and that’s what you’d expect in the second round of the tournament, playing a really quality team.”
For Purdue, the Boilers shed some first round struggles this year, advancing to round two of March Madness after back-to-back overtime losses in their last two NCAA Tournaments. Still, a one win postseason doesn’t satisfy junior Isaac Haas.
“No, nobody is (satisfied),” the 7-2 center explained. “We came here for a reason, to win a national championship, just like everyone.”
“That was never our goal, to win one game,” added junior Dakota Mathias. “We think we’ve got the tools and the personnel to make a run here.”
Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan is certainly a key factor in the Boilers’ title hopes, but the sophomore has done as much as he can to sequester himself from the media this week. On Friday, Swanigan spent the entire open locker room period peddling on a stationary bike with a hoodie tied tightly over his face. While head coach Matt Painter admits interviews aren’t Biggie’s most favorite part of being a college athlete, Swanigan’s teammates see him dialing in in a crucial time.
“He doesn’t want to lose,” says junior Vince Edwards. “None of us want to lose, but I mean, that guy, he’s a beast. When you don’t want to lose and you have the mentality he has and the ability he has, you can just tell it means a lot more to him.”
The four-seed Boilers will tip off against five-seed Iowa State in the final game scheduled Saturday night at approximately 9:40 p.m eastern time. They follow Butler’s showdown with MTSU, set for 7:10 p.m.