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Surprising Butler looks to remain unbeaten vs. Valparaiso

Nov 29, 2006 - 3:39 PM No. 18 Butler (7-0) at Valparaiso (3-2) 8:05 pm EST

VALPARAISO, Indiana (Ticker) -- It has been a while since Butler has had a team this good.

A ranked team for the first time since 2000-01, the 18th-ranked Bulldogs will look for their first 8-0 start in four years against Valparaiso on the road Wednesday.

Six years ago, Butler was ranked as high as No. 20, but prior to that it had not cracked the Top 25 since it was the 11-ranked squad in 1948-49. However, this season the Bulldogs have been a surprise team.

Picked to finish sixth in the Horizon League this campaign, Butler already has four wins over major conference teams, including two en route to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship.

The Bulldogs topped Tennessee on Wednesday and - two days later - Gonzaga in the tournament's title game. A.J. Graves and Julian Betko combined for 21 points and five 3-pointers in the first half as the Bulldogs jumped out early and knocked off the Zags, 79-71. They also defeated in-state rivals Notre Dame and Indiana prior to the tournament.

Shawn Huff scored 22 points to lead the Crusaders in a 65-62 loss to ninth-ranked Marquette. Valparaiso shot well (61 percent) in the second half of its near-upset against the Golden Eagles, but will now look to avoid losing their third straight after starting the season 3-0.

Butler has won five of the last six meetings against the Crusaders, including a 72-69 victory last season.

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