INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Head coach Chris Holtmann and the Butler Bulldogs will prepare for BIG EAST Conference play with a challenging non-conference schedule that includes a home game against Cincinnati, the Gavitt Tipoff Games, the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, a Crossroads Classic match-up with Indiana, and a road trip to Utah. Holtmann and the Bulldogs announced the full non-conference schedule Thursday (June 16).
“This will clearly be our most challenging non-conference schedule since joining the BIG EAST,” said Holtmann, who enters his third season as head coach at Butler. “I am anxious to see how we handle the demands of this caliber of schedule with so many new faces that we will rely on to play important roles this season, as well as returning players who will assume increased leadership roles within our program.”
Butler’s non-conference schedule includes the opportunity to play seven opponents that won at least 20 games a season ago and five that were members of the 2016 NCAA Tournament field. Three additional teams played in postseason play.
“We are always excited to bring a number of quality teams to Hinkle Fieldhouse to play in front of our tremendous fans,” said Holtmann. While this non-conference schedule is certainly ambitious given what we lost to graduation, it is also very exciting and great preparation for BIG EAST play.”
The non-conference home schedule includes six Saturday games at Hinkle Fieldhouse (out of the nine non-conference home contests). Butler will also host all nine BIG EAST foes in Indianapolis. The BIG EAST schedule, as well as game times and television assignments for all games, will be announced later this summer. BIG EAST play is scheduled to begin the week of December 26.
Season tickets for the 2016-17 campaign are available through Butler’s Ticket Office at (317) 940-9390.
The 2016-17 season begins with a pair of exhibitions as Wabash (Saturday, Oct. 29) and Saginaw Valley State (Saturday, Nov. 5) come to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Saginaw Valley State won 25 games a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
Regular Season Opener
The regular season tips off Saturday, Nov. 12 when Northern Colorado comes to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler is 1-0 against Northern Colorado, a 71-64 win in Indianapolis during the 1977-78 season.
Gavitt Tipoff Games
In a contest previously announced, Northwestern and Butler will match up Wednesday, Nov. 16 in Indianapolis as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series between the BIG EAST and Big Ten. Northwestern won 20 games last season. Butler has won five straight in the series; Northwestern leads all-time series, 16-10.
Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational
Butler hosts Bucknell on Saturday, Nov. 19 and Norfolk State on Monday, Nov. 21 in games at Hinkle Fieldhouse that are part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The Bulldogs will also meet Vanderbilt on Thanksgiving Day in Las Vegas, and will play either Arizona or Santa Clara on Friday, Nov. 25. Bucknell (NIT) and Norfolk State (CIT) both appeared in postseason tournaments in 2016. Vanderbilt won 19 games and made the NCAA Tournament, while Arizona posted a record of 25-9 to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament as well.
Butler and Bucknell have met only once, a 68-56 Butler win in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have never faced Norfolk State.
Butler is 5-0 against the Commodores, most recently winning match-ups in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Arizona leads the series with Butler, 3-0, including two wins during the 2000-01 season with one being in the second round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara and Butler have met twice, with each team winning at home – Santa Clara, 57-56 in 1999-2000; Butler, 84-60 in 2000-01.
**Northern Colorado is also part of the Las Vegas Invitational field, but the game on Nov. 12 is not part of the event.
Home-and-Home Series with Utah Begins in Salt Lake City
The Bulldogs will stay out West for a Monday, Nov. 28 game at Utah in Salt Lake City. That is the first half of a home-and-home series that will see the Utes return to Indianapolis during the 2017-18 season. The Utes went 27-9 a season ago, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Butler and Utah have split two previous meetings. Butler won in the opening round of the 2010 Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, while Utah won a 1964 match-up in Salt Lake City.
Butler Welcomes Cincinnati to Hinkle Fieldhouse
Cincinnati comes to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 10 for another match-up of 2016 NCAA Tournament teams. Butler won the front half of the home-and-home series in the Queen City last season when G/F Roosevelt Jones scored at the buzzer for a 78-76 win. Prior to Butler’s win in 2015-16, the teams last met in the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
Bulldogs Look to Continue Crossroads Classic Success
Butler matches up with Indiana in the 2016 Crossroads Classic on Saturday, Dec. 17 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Butler is 4-1 in the event which pairs Butler with Purdue or Indiana in rotating years. Butler is 1-1 in the event against Indiana, including a win over the then #1 Hoosiers in 2012. Indiana posted a record of 27-8 a season ago, advancing to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Rounding Out the Non-Conference Schedule
Additional contests include welcoming Central Arkansas to Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday, Dec. 3; traveling to Terre Haute to play Indiana State on Wednesday, Dec. 7; and hosting Vermont on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Vermont went 23-14 last season and played in the CBI. Butler has yet to face Central Arkansas nor Vermont. That is in stark contrast to Indiana State, which is Butler’s most-played opponent with the Bulldogs leading the series, 70-56, including an 85-71 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse last season.
Head coach Chris Holtmann enters his third season on the Butler sidelines after leading the Bulldogs to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons in Indianapolis. The 2016-17 Bulldogs return three starters from last season’s team that finished the 2015-16 campaign with a 22-11 record. The Bulldogs also add a recruiting class ranked in the Top 25 by several outlets. The Bulldogs’ 79.9 points per game ranked in the Top 25 nationally.
Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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