Joining the Big East is going to be an amazing thing for Butler University as a whole, especially the things it will do for men's basketball now and in the coming years. Two years removed from playing in the Horizon League and now just months have passed since the Bulldogs' final play in their lone season in the Atlantic 10 conference, Butler has quite a challenge ahead in the 2013-14 men's basketball season under first-season head coach Brandon Miller.
Butler has two exhibition games on the slate for the pre-season. Nova Southeastern visits the Bulldogs on Tuesday, October 29 and DePauw will make the short drive from Greencastle, Indiana on Saturday, November 2.
The Bulldogs have a somewhat unique non-conference slate, as they'll start off the regular season hosting Lamar (Nov. 9), Princeton (Nov. 16) and Vanderbilt (Nov. 19). They'll cap off their first two weeks of the season with a Saturday afternoon affair in a trip just an hour north of Butler's Indianapolis campus at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana on November 23 at 2 p.m.
Thanksgiving weekend, Butler will participate in the eight-team 2013 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports Complex. The Bulldogs meet up with Washington State in their first game of the Old Spice Classic on Thursday, November 28. Their second round opponent will either be Purdue or Oklahoma State. Depending on how the matchups shape up, BU has a chance to play Memphis, Siena, LSU or St. Joseph's, all four of which are on the other half of the bracket.
Following the Thanksgiving break, home dates with North Dakota (Dec. 7) and Manchester (Dec. 9) help the Dawgs open the month of December. Saturday, December 14, Butler will play Purdue, in what could be their second meeting of the season, at Banker's Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The neutral site contest with the Purdue Boilermakers is set for a 6 p.m. tipoff as the second of two games in the Close the Gap: Crossroads Classic. Notre Dame and Indiana face off in the first game at 3:15 p.m. that day.
Just before the Bulldogs take time for Christmas break, they take a trip to Evansville to play the Purple Aces at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday, December 21. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) makes a trip from the Garden State to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, December 28 at 1 p.m.
Big East conference season starts out the way Butler hoped it would, with a long-time conference power in the Villanova Wildcats on New Years Eve at 7:30 p.m.
Hitting the road in the 10-team Big East might be the biggest challenge, other than replacing the play of injured forward Roosevelt Jones.
Road trips to Xavier (Jan. 4), Creighton (Jan. 14), Providence (Jan. 21), Seton Hall (Jan. 29), Marquette (Feb. 4), Georgetown (Feb. 8), St. John's (Feb. 18), Villanova (Feb. 26) and DePaul (Mar. 6) will provide more than enough test for the 2013-14 version of Butler Bulldog basketball.
Along with the aforementioned home games with Lamar, Princeton, Vanderbilt, Manchester, North Dakota and NJIT, Butler also hosts a pretty hefty group of Big East foes. Villanova (Dec. 31) becomes the first to grace Hinkle Fieldhouse with its Big East tradition. DePaul (Jan. 9), Georgetown (Jan. 11), Marquette (Jan. 18), St. John's (Jan. 25), Creighton (Feb. 13), Providence (Feb. 23) and Seton Hall (Mar. 8) will all be making their first trips to Indianapolis as Big East opponents of Butler.
As per usual tradition in college basketball, the Big East conference tournament will once again be held at the world's oldest basketball arena, Madison Square Garden, from March 12-15.
Xavier (Feb. 11) will make its second trip in as many years and fourth time playing Butler, as the two were also Atlantic 10 conference opponents in the 2012-13 season. Prior to last season, Butler and Xavier would play every other year on each school's home court.
Overall, Butler faces a very challenging schedule, but there have been many times in the past that the Bulldogs have overcome obstacles and beaten teams that the critics and so-called experts had not even given them a chance. Hinkle Fieldhouse will host a total of 17 games, including nine Big East tilts. Brandon Miller and his squad also will play 4 four neutral site games, three in Orlando, and the other against Purdue just miles away at Banker's Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
Nine road games in the league, plus trips to Ball State and Evansville will only make this particular Butler team that much better. As of today (Sept. 18), there are just 42 days until the Bulldogs welcome Nova Southeastern on October 29!