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Chasing Perfection: Butler Needs Victory at Valparaiso

The Butler men's basketball team finished January a perfect 9-0.

March is the month most fans are pointing towards.

However, with a victory in the final game of February, the Bulldogs will have finished off a significant accomplishment.

"I think this team is all in. We are going to go up there and give it our best shot," said junior center Matt Howard.

There is Valparaiso University. The Bulldogs have a shot at finishing Horizon League play with an unblemished 18-0 record with a victory over the Crusaders Friday.

"It's special, not something that very many teams get to do. We are really excited about the game and looking forward to playing in it," said sophomore forward Gordon Hayward.

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Throughout the course of Brad Stevens' highly successful tenure as Butler head coach, he has preached the importance of focusing on the next game on the schedule.

He rarely puts to much emphasis on any contest other than the one that comes up next. This strategy is a big reason for the Bulldogs have so many victories. Now, with the Bulldogs only one win away from 18-0, Stevens is taking time acknowledge the magnitude of the position his team is in.

"We've had two Sweet 16 teams, one went 14-3 in the league, and the other went 14-4. It really is a special thing to even be on the doorstep of it," said Stevens Monday night prior to the taping of his weekly radio/webcast coaches program at Brother's Bar & Grill in Broad Ripple.

Check out the latest Associated Press Men's Basketball Poll

A perfect league record will not guarantee Butler a spot in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. However, a win over Valparaiso would cement this teams' place in school history, and that is something to be proud of.

"It's not a goal at the start of the year by any means, you are trying to compete for a championship. But to be in this position, the guys have done quite a bit, I know it is something that they're thinking about," admitted Stevens.

Butler (25-4, 17-0) is currently ranked 10th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 15th in the Associated Press Poll.

After Friday's game at Valparaiso, the Bulldogs will host a Horizon League Tournament Semi-Final game March 6th at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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