The UCLA Bruins (2-2) will face the Butler Bulldogs (3-1) at 8:30 Friday evening at the Anaheim Convention Center. Both teams are coming off a first round loss in the tournament. The Bruins were badly beaten by Portland 74-47 and Butler lost to Minnesota 82-73.
Butler is a very good team that will present problems for the Bruins. They have a very balanced scoring attack with the ability to score inside and out. They also play solid defense and like to press for much of the game.
The Bulldogs best overall player is 6-9 sophomore forward Gordon Hayward. Although Hayward had a subpar game against Minnesota, he is highly skilled and can score from the perimeter with excellent three point shooting as well as score inside. He is Butler's leading scorer.
Junior Matt Howard (6-8) is another outstanding player for Butler. He is a very good low post scorer and rebounder. Howard scored 23 points against Minnesota and was the best player in the game even though his team lost.
Butlers' other starters are 6-3 sophomore Shelvin Mack, 6-3 senior Willie Veasley and 6-0 junior Shawn Vanzant. Mack is a very good three point shooter and is leading the team in assists. Veasley doesn't score a lot but is a very good defender. Vanzant is also a very good defender, and is not relied upon for a lot of scoring. The Butler bench is not as deep as some of the teams in this tournament.
Butler is a very disciplined defensive oriented team that rebounds well and likes to play the Bruins style of play. They will be very difficult for UCLA to beat unless the Bruins shoot the ball much better than they did against Portland.
The Bruins will probably be looking at a zone for much of the game and unless they attack it a lot differently than they did against Portland, this could be another difficult evening. We expect the Bruins to play much better on Friday night, but we are not sure it will be enough to overcome this fundamentally solid Butler team.