INDIANAPOLIS — Butler may have found some relief on his Big East/Big 12 Battle assignment. The first basketball season outside of the league in coach Thad Matta’s second term will nonetheless be a challenge.
In a rematch of the game that sends Butler to his first Final Four, Kansas State will visit Hinkle Fieldhouse in the annual Big East/Big 12 Battle on November 30th. Wednesday’s announcement was the first for a Butler home opponent.
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Butler was to be assigned a Big Ten Road opponent for the Gavitt games. And Butler needs to find a game to replace Crossroads Classic, which was canceled after last season.
Much about the Bulldogs will be revealed during Thanksgiving week at Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. The seven other teams in the tournament: BYU, Dayton, Kansas, North Carolina State, USC, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Kansas is defending the NCAA champion, and USC, Tennessee and Wisconsin all made it into the March Madness field.
By November, the Bulldogs will have a revised roster that could include three transfers: center Manny Bates (NC State), forward Ali Ali (Akron) and guard Eric Hunter Jr. (Purdue).
A tone was set during LaVall Jordan’s final season when the Bulldogs played the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas. They lost to Houston 70-52 and Texas A&M 57-50 and won their only game against Division II opponent Chaminade, 84-51.
Butler finished 14-19.
Kansas State/Butler will match first-year coaches. Longtime Baylor assistant Jerome Tang succeeded Bruce Weber at Kansas State, and Matta replaced Jordan.
Kansas State is coming off a 14-17 season, losing 17-point scorer Nijel Pack from Lawrence Central. Pack transferred to Miami (Fl.).
In March 2010, the Bulldogs beat Kansas State 63-56 in the NCAA West Regional Finals in Salt Lake City and sent them to the national semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium. That was their only encounter.
The two coaches, Butler’s Brad Stevens and Kansas State’s Frank Martin, have long since left their respective schools and, coincidentally, are now in the same state.
Stevens is president of the basketball division of the Boston Celtics, having coached them for eight seasons. Martin left Kansas State after 2011-12, coached South Carolina for 11 years (including the 2017 Final Four) and most recently became a coach in Massachusetts.
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.