By Drew Olson Special to Published Apr 07, 2010 at 1:05 AM

Butler University a top 10 team in college basketball for almost the entire season. Several ESPN analysts tabbed them as a Final Four contestant -- back in October. Yet, the Bulldogs were regarded as a "Cinderella" story by casual sports fans across the country.

If that's the case, where is the love for the Bucks?

Milwaukee clinched a playoff spot, it's first since the 2005-'06 season, with a gritty 79-74 victory over Chicago Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.

If the playoffs started today, the Bucks (43-34) would be seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference and would face No. 4 Boston in the first round.

"We're not taking a deep breath and relaxing as we just have to focus on patience and finishing the rest of the season," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles, whose team was playing without center Andrew Bogut, who was sidelined for the season with elbow, wrist and hand injuries.

"We can focus on our playoff position but need to finish out the season. Will I be able to relax? Yes, on the ride home and maybe then for a couple of hours to relax."

John Salmons, playing against his former team, scored 26 points to lead the Bucks, who are 19-6 since acquiring the guard from the Bulls. Ersan Ilyasova scored 17 points off the bench for Milwaukee and Luke Ridnour added 13, but the big story was Kurt Thomas.

The veteran center scored four points in 32 minutes of action, but grabbed 14 rebounds and led the team in plus-minus rating (plus-19).

"Without Andrew, we just don't have an inside presence," Thomas said to reporters after the game. "We really miss his defense, blocked shots, scoring and doing everything for us. It's not how I want to get minutes but I am enjoying every opportunity to play. It was nice to hear Scott say, 'Great job' as I left the floor tonight."


Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.