Hats off to Butler. 6-0 after a 79-71 victory over the 'Zags. Considering the Irish gave Butler their best game of the season, that makes us unofficial runner-up. Seriously, watch out for this team in March. Beating #21 and #23 in the same week, including the team that beat a Final Four contender in UNC. Butler is now firmly in the national spotlight, and has no big non-conference games left on the schedule. They could go into Horizon League play undefeated and should win 30 including the conference tourney. With a good seeding and a hot team, look for Butler to go to the Sweet Sixteen, even the Elite Eight or better.
Gonzaga still has a lot on their plate before playing intraconference. #25 Texas, #13 Washington, #8 Duke, and #20 Nevada will all be big tests for the young team. If they win two of those, paired with the previous victory over North Carolina, I can see Gonzaga grabbing a 2 or 3 seed. That would be a great accomplishment for a team losing the biggest star in its history. A high seed, with the team coming together at the right time, could be very dangerous.
What does this mean for us? In hindsight, Notre Dame's strong performance against Butler bodes very well for our season. I hope the boys watched that game and realized that they can play with anyone in the country. We have Lehigh and Winston Salem before the biggest tests of the nonconference schedule, Maryland and Alabama. If we can take one of those, our bubble profile starts looking a lot better. Although we have a weak SOS, the Irish could put up a gaudy record (only 3 ranked games in the Big East, G'Town, Syracuse, and Marquette).
Well, that was my positive outlook for the day. Have a great weekend. Three days 'til Lehigh.