Elon (0-0) at Butler (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 10, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: Local. Home Record: Elon 0-0, Butler 0-0. Away Record: Elon 0-0, Butler 0-0. Neutral Record: Elon 0-0, Butler 0-0. Conference Record: Elon 0-0, Butler 0-0. Series Record: Butler leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Butler Bulldogs and the Elon Phoenix get together to tip off the 2012-13 campaign this afternoon as part of the 29th annual Maui Invitational played at the Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Butler, which has made the move to the Atlantic 10 Conference from the Horizon where it dominated for a number of years, is coming off a bit of a disappointing campaign in 2011-12 when it finished with a record of just 22-15. Tied for third place in the conference standings with a record of 11-7, the Bulldogs were only invited to take part in the CBI in the postseason where they made it to the semifinals.
For head coach Brad Stevens, recognized as one of the brightest young coaches in the country, the team's winning percentage of .595 was far below what had been a career mark of better than .800. Heading into the massive 16-team A-10, Stevens has a career mark of 139-40 which still places him among the best in the business.
As for the Phoenix, members of the Southern Conference, they take their directions from head coach Matt Matheny who is entering his fourth campaign with the program. Elon has the luxury of bringing back four starters from last season when the team was one game under .500 overall (15-16), but an even 9-9 in league play which placed them second in the North Division.
In terms of the all-time series between these two programs, this is just the second meeting following an 86-40 blowout win for the Bulldogs in this same building back in 2005.
The next stage in this event has Elon competing against Colgate at home in the regional round next weekend and Butler clashing with Marquette out in Hawaii on Nov. 19.
Both of Elon's double-digit scorers from a year ago are back, with Jack Isenbarger taking center stage as the top scorer who produced 14.5 ppg. Also the top passer with 79 assists, Isenbarger caused much of his damage out on the perimeter where he knocked down 73 of his 133 made field goals, hitting three-pointers at a 39.9 percent clip. While Isenbarger is charged with handle the action on the outside, it is up to Lucas Troutman (12.8 ppg) to provide some punch in the paint. A starter in all but two games, Troutman was responsible for 5.5 rpg and made a team-best 44 blocks, but those numbers still don't make up for the fact that he shot just 60.5 percent at the free- throw line. Despite being listed as a guard, Sebastian Koch (8.9 ppg) is someone who can cause matchup problems on the glass since he led the squad with close to six rebounds per game last season.
With more wins in his first five seasons than any other head coach in the history of the NCAA, Stevens knows how to put together a roster and then motivate those players to operate at peak potential. One key element for Butler is the addition of Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke who hasn't played a regulation game since March of 2011. Named to the Second Team Atlantic 10 Conference Preseason All-Conference Team, Clarke has proven himself to be a three-point sniper who now needs just 26 more conversions to reach 300 for his career. Named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team last season, Roosevelt Jones led the team in rebounding as a freshman last year and was also a solid scorer in the paint. Junior forward Khyle Marshall was second on the unit in scoring (9.8 ppg) and can be a beast on the glass when he sets his mind to it.
Under Stevens the Bulldogs have an impressive 69-11 mark at home and there's no reason to think the squad won't notch win number 70 today against Elon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 81, Elon 64
11/10 10:32:25 ET