He tipped in a winning basket as time expired in Butler's opening-round win over Old Dominion, then hit the game-winning free throw in the final seconds of a one-point upset of top-seeded Pittsburgh.
No late-game heroics were required against the Badgers, largely because Howard's hustle, his rebounding, and his scoring from inside and out helped the Bulldogs build a 20-point lead in the second half that proved too much for the Badgers to overcome.
"He's been outstanding the whole tournament," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "You know, when it's a one-and-done situation - he is a fighter anyway - but he is a winner. . . . His play has been special."
The eighth-seeded Bulldogs (26-9) have taken down a Big East power and Big Ten bruisers, proving again they can play with anyone, especially in March. Another sure thing about these Horizon League champs: They won't have to duke it out with Duke in this year's tournament.
The top-seeded Blue Devils, who beat Butler, 61-59, in last season's thrilling title game, were upset by Arizona, 93-77, earlier in the evening.
"A lot of people just ignored us and said, 'Aw, they'll probably lose in the first or second round,' " Butler center Andrew Smith said after the Bulldogs won their 12th straight game since Feb. 5. "Here we are again, trying to prove everybody wrong. We'll try to win three more."
The 6-foot-11 Smith briefly left the game after twisting his left ankle early in the second half, but returned and finished with eight points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
Shelvin Mack scored 13 points and Shawn Vanzant 10 for Butler, which next meets second-seeded Florida (29-7) on Saturday for a trip to what would be the Bulldogs' second straight Final Four.
"Obviously, we're thrilled to still be playing," Stevens said. "I don't think that this group goes into games not believing, and I don't think that this group came here not believing. And so we're going to see if we can't try to get one on Saturday and move on."