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Butler Looks To Replicate Last Year's Run In 2011 NCAA Tournament

The Verizon Center is hosting four first round games of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Thursday that will feature some of the best teams in the Nation. You can find the schedule for Thursday's games here. We're going to preview each of the eight teams that will be playing on Thursday. Let's check out last year's runner up, the Butler Bulldogs.

Butler Bulldogs:

Coach: Brad Stevens

Conference: Horizon League (Champion)

Record: 23-9 (13-5)

Best Player And Why: This one is kind of a tie between Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. Howard provides a really consistent inside presence, and is probably the best player on the team on any given day. But Mack can have huge scoring nights at any time and can carry the Butler team by himself.

Strength: Experience. Butler made it all the way to the National Championship game against Duke, so they know what it takes to make a deep run in the tournament. They aren't going to feel like they don't belong in any game they play.

Weakness: Size, and a go-to scorer on the wing now that Gordon Hayward has moved on to the NBA. Howard is their best inside player and he will be smaller than most of the centers he faces in the tournament. Mack can have big games, but he has been inconsistent this year.

Starting Lineup: Chase Stigall - Shelvin Mack - Shawn Vanzant - Andrew Smith - Matt Howard

Prediction: I actually like Old Dominion in this game. I don't think Butler has looked very good this year, and ODU has a lot of tournament experience themselves.

If you haven't filled out your bracket yet, it's not too late! We have a printable bracket that's been updated to reflect the results of the first-four wins.