The No. 6 Butler Bulldogs will head out to Pittsburg on Saturday to face off against the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at CONSOL Energy Center on Saturday in the Round of 32 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament known as March Madness.
According to a report in the Associated Press, although Butler (23-10) and Notre Dame (30-5) are separated by a three-hour car drive of 150 miles in Indiana, they have only faced off against each other just once in the last 20 years. This upcoming college basketball game will be played in Pennsylvania.
"One of the things we wanted to do was compete and beat all these Indiana schools," Butler center Kameron Woods said. "Anytime you play anybody in state, you just want to compete. But we know we're both taking a plane back to Indiana at some point."
The Associated Press reported that the winner of Saturday's game would "extend a bounceback season that has returned the sheen to both programs."
"A year after going just 15-17, the Irish reached the 30-victory plateau for only the second time in team history while capturing the ACC Tournament," AP wrote.
According to user alstein of SB Nation, Butler earned their ticket to this year's March Madness thanks to a 12-6 Big East regular season and 22-9 record overall. He found some interesting statistics about Butler, which the tournament's Selection Committee rated as the 23rd best team in the field.
"One thing that jumps off the page about these Bulldogs is that, despite not having a single player listed over 6'9", they are one of best rebounding teams in the country, especially on the defensive end," alstein wrote.
Alstein added that although Butler had a shooting rate from the line at 68 percent, the Bulldogs managed to get to the line a lot. The key to victory for Notre Dame may involve interfering with that possibility on the basketball court.
"The Irish are one of the best teams in the country at keeping teams off the line, so that will likely be a key game-within-the-game in this one," alstein wrote. "Though Notre Dame is far stringier in terms of turning the ball over, Butler is still fairly strong in this category and forces more turnovers than the Irish."
According to the Associated Press, Notre Dame senior guard Pat Connaughton decided to pass on a baseball career with the Baltimore Orioles and take one more shot at college-level basketball. However, he is keeping all of his options open, depending on how the rest of the tournament plays out.
"I didn't want to burn the basketball bridge before I knew what was across the bridge," Connaughton said.
The Associated Press reported that Butler's success could be attributed to its "defense, tenacity and tempo." That working formula has led to 17 NCAA Tournament wins in 2000; in comparison, the Fighting Irish only have six wins.
"They've done so much in March as opposed to us, which is quite the contrary," Connaughton said. "We always see them play. We always see how many fans they get. It amps you up to play them not just in a game but in the biggest game of the year."
As for Butler, alstein argued that their key to victory in Saturday's game on how many turnovers they force Notre Dame to make.
"The turnover battle is one to watch here, as is usually the case, as Butler defeated Texas largely because they forced an excellent 25 percent turnover rate on the Longhorns while only turning it over 8 percent of the time themselves," alstein wrote. "I think winning this battle is a bigger key to Butler's success, as Notre Dame has the efficiency edge when shots actually go up in the air."
The game between Butler and Notre Dame will air Saturday at 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS. While a cable TV login is required to watch this game, online viewers can stream it on the official NCAA March Madness website and through various devices on the official app.