Five bold predictions: Butler men’s basketball

Junior Pierre Brooks II transferred from Michigan State and has two seasons of eligibility left for the Bulldogs. Photo by Jacob Hedgcock


1) The Bulldogs average more than 75 points per game for the first time since 2017 

In Thad Matta’s second season as the men’s basketball head coach, he initiated a huge roster overhaul by returning just three members from last year’s 14-18 team. Most notably, Matta brought in guards Posh Alexander, Pierre Brooks, DJ Davis and Landon Moore. Outside of Alexander, who made his name as the 2021 Big East Defensive Player of the Year while averaging two steals a game in three seasons at St. John’s, each one of these guys knows how to score. Brooks never got much playing time at Michigan State, but scored 15 points against Oregon and Portland and averaged 33 points per game during his senior season at Frederick Douglass Academy. Davis and Moore each averaged at least 13 points per game last season at UC Irvine and Saint Francis (PA), respectively. This team is fast and has more shooting ability than any Butler team has had since the 21-win 2017 team that rostered Kelan Martin, Paul Jorgensen, Sean McDermott and Kamar Baldwin

2) Favorable schedule and improved play has the Bulldogs at 10-3 going into the New Year 

Of course, this team has a lot of unknowns. However, Butler will be playing eight home games prior to 2024, and five of them are against non-Power Five conference opponents. The Power Five opponents visiting Hinkle before New Year’s Day will be Texas Tech, California and a conference game against Georgetown. California and Georgetown combined for 10 wins last year and were on the losing end of Butler’s two best games last year. Texas Tech went 16-16 last year, but had just five conference wins to their name. The hardest stretch of games for Butler will be on the road against Michigan State followed by the ESPN Invitational, which Butler will open up against Florida Atlantic University. I have Butler dropping both of those top-10 match-ups, but securing a 2-1 record and fifth place finish in the tournament. The last game of the calendar year comes on the road against Providence, which could likely be a loss for Butler. Providence brings back key pieces in Devin Carter and Bryce Hopkins, which just adds on to the difficulty of winning in their arena. Nonetheless, a 10-3 start to the season would be an improvement to the 8-6 start Butler had going into the New Year last season. 

3) Hinkle Magic gets restored 

Hinkle Magic has been around for quite some time, dating back to when the Bulldogs knocked off the 1928 Pittsburgh team that came into town on a 27-game win streak, but Butler has not beaten multiple ranked opponents at home since the 2020 season. Despite that season being a 10-15 record for the LaVall Jordan-led Bulldogs, they knocked off top-10 foes Creighton and Villanova in Hinkle Fieldhouse that year. According to the pre-season AP poll, Butler will have four ranked opponents strolling into Hinkle in UConn, Villanova, Marquette and Creighton. I expect these teams to stay ranked all year, but I would not be surprised if St. John’s or Xavier find their way in the rankings by the time they visit in late February and early March, respectively. So, which two teams will Butler upset? Villanova on Jan. 27 and Marquette on Feb.13. Mark those calendars because the Butler faithful will be storming the court those days. 

4) Finley Bizjack makes the Big East All-Freshman Team 

6’4” Bizjack, who is tied for second-highest rated recruit in Butler history, brings height and an inherent scoring ability to the Butler rotation. Although no one quite knows what line-up Matta will send out in the team’s first unit, it only makes sense to have some height at the shooting guard position alongside Alexander, who stands at 6’0”. Even if Matta elects to go with Moore or Davis over Bizjack, the first-year guard will be able to contribute minutes to either guard position and will be ready to compete day one. Although Bizjack has a good chance at winning the Big East Freshman of the Year award, five-star UConn first year Stephon Castle is probably the best player in the 2023 Big East class, and the award is Castle’s to lose. If Bizjack gets as much playing time as he should, he is expected to average somewhere in the ball-park of 12 points, four rebounds and four assists, which will easily have him on the Big East All-Freshman Team. Bizjack making the all-first year team would put him in a small group of Bulldogs to accomplish that feat — joining Chuck Harris, Kamar Baldwin and Andrew Chrabascz

5) Bulldogs return to the Big Dance and win 20 games 

It has been too long since Butler has played basketball past the Big East Tournament. The last time Butler made an NCAA Tournament appearance was as a 10 seed in 2017. Although the 2019 Bulldogs would have been a four or five seed, that tournament did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Butler is currently in its longest drought since then-head coach Barry Collier ended a 35-year drought in 1996. Since that season, the Bulldogs have not gone more than three years without an appearance until now. Matta does not often coach on the losing side, and sitting through his second career season of less than 20 wins and his first under .500 is sure to make him more eager than ever to get back to his winning ways. Matta reshaped the roster with his recruits, and will have Butler back in the dance. They should be around 21-11, which should be good enough for an eight or nine seed come March. Butler will be back to their winning ways with Matta entering his second season soon enough. 

Preseason awards by the Collegian: 

Ahead of the 2023-24 season, a few players have already demonstrated a standout role on the men’s basketball team. 

Most impactful transfer: DJ Davis 

The Bulldogs brought in a plethora of talent through the transfer portal, but it is hard to picture anyone besides Davis becoming the leading scorer this year. The 6’1” guard is coming off a 2022-23 All-Conference season with UC Irvine where he averaged an efficient 15 points a game, including 24 points and six three pointers in an upset win against Oregon

Most improved player: John-Michael Mulloy 

The Bulldogs bring back just three players from last year’s team in Jalen Thomas, Connor Turnbull and Mulloy. With Thomas already being an established player, it really comes down to Turnbull and Mulloy for the most improvement. Although Turnbull showed promise last season, it is hard not to root for Mulloy after he has been sitting behind upperclassman his whole career and being forced to miss last season due to injury. 

Team MVP: Posh Alexander 

The Bulldogs have not had this much talent at the point guard position since Aaron Thompson, and even he benefited from playing with future NBA players. Alexander will be bringing elite perimeter defense and an inherent ability to score the ball around the hoop to Hinkle Fieldhouse. 


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