Middle Tennessee meets Butler Saturday evening with the Blue Raiders eyeing a spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
They’ve reached the point in the tournament where everyone is good, and it’s obvious just how much respect these teams have for each other.
On Friday, Butler coach Chris Holtmann came out dropping bombs.
“There’s no question they’re a Final Four caliber team. They’re as good as any team we’ve played in the second round in my tenure.”
While Middle Tennessee appreciates the lofty praise they also understand that will not win them anything especially against a team head coach Kermit Davis also has a healthy amount of respect for, “That’s nice that he would do that and,because I was going to say the same thing about his team!”
There’s no question Butler has the ability to make that kind of run. They’ve done it twice before, playing in the NCAA Finals and knocking off top ranked Villanova twice this season.
The Blue Raiders also share that belief. Senior Reggie Upshaw says Middle Tennessee can reach the pinnacle.
“We do. We feel like we can compete with anybody, you know. We showed that last year when we upset the two seed.”
Last year, the Blue Raiders pulled off the upset of the tournament as a 15 seed, beating one of the tournament favorite’s– Michigan State.
No one is viewing their win over Minnesota as an upset this year, and they’ve been described nationally as “massively underseeded” while making the cover of USA Today.
Holtmann knows his team is in for a battle, but he won’t lose the battle of mutual admiration.
“I mean let’s be honest, most people are picking Middle to win this game,” he said.
Vegas odds have Butler as a 4-point favorite. Tip off is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.
Courtesy of WKRN News 2