What is it that makes the Butler-Milwaukee rivalry so important? Well, one would venture a lot of guesses as to why it is important.
For one, both schools have more McCafferty Trophies than any current member. That drives the passion for all sports up big time, and any victory against the other school can mean points in the McCafferty standings. With seven, Butler hold more than any school in the Horizon League; former members Oral Roberts and Notre Dame each have seven as well. Right on their heels, however, is Milwaukee with five.
Each school has a successful men’s basketball program, so more often than not the McCafferty is decided by the non-revenue sports. Butler has made its bones on dynasties in cross country, Milwaukee on its women’s sports volleyball and soccer. While Butler has more McCafferty’s, it is the Panthers who have more conference titles than any other program, with a whopping 89 going into the 2009-10 season despite joining the conference in 1994, a full 15 years after Butler was a charter member in 1979.
Since 1997, only two other schools have McCafferty Trophies: UIC outright in 2000 and a tie with Butler in 2007, and Cleveland State in 2008. Butler owned the end of the nineties and early 2000’s, with all-sports trophies in 1997, 98, 99, 2002, and 03. Milwaukee won their first in 2001, and since have won four more, including the 2009 McCafferty Trophy.
However, it is often the top sport at each school that is the real basis of the rivalry: men’s basketball. There is no arguing that Butler has had a better history than Milwaukee. The Panthers have made their mark on the Horizon League only this decade. The Sweet 16 run in 2005 was a bench mark for the conference, as a school other than Butler had finally made noise in the Big Dance. Butler, on the other hand, has done it more than once, even though neither school has advanced to the Elite 8.
The real rivalry comes when the two teams go head to head. Since 2002, in Bruce Pearl’s first year as head coach, the series stands at 9-9. The Panthers have gotten the best of the Bulldogs when it comes to the biggest game: The Horizon League Championship. In 2003 and 2006, Milwaukee has beaten Butler in the conference championship game to win the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and in neither game was it close – in 2003 the Panthers won 69-52, and in 2006 they won 87-71.
The fact of the matter is, the Panthers and Bulldogs have some of their biggest games against each other. In fact, the students from either Milwaukee or Butler have rushed the court in five games in the rivalry, more than any other two schools in the conference. As we let the students tell you about the rivalry, here are some videos from those court rushes:
“A part of my reasoning for coming to Milwaukee was that the school had a Division-I basketball team, and that it had been very successful while I was in high school. Needless to say, Butler is the Horizon League school with the biggest target on its back. Beating Butler basketball is a pretty big statement. Because of their increased national recognition, it’s a win that may very well be nationally televised. At the very least, it’ll make it onto SportsCenter. That’s HUGE for a mid-major program.” – John Parker, Klotsche Krazies
“That was the craziest game ever! The last second game-winning shot was absolute insanity! it was easily the most fun I’ve ever had at a Panther game, even before we rushed the court!” – Maurice Pelman, Klotsche Krazies
“You can’t tell me this is just a game. It’s so much more.” – Joel Cornette, Butler player, after the Shot Heard Round Broadripple – 2003