The Butler Bulldogs basketball team has had a rough start in the revamped Big East. Two losses to open up conference play hurts, no matter how good or bad your team is.
Butler sits at 10-4, and 0-2 in the conference. They had won five straight games before facing down then ranked No. 11 Villanova to open up the Big East.
To the Bulldogs credit, they pushed Nova into overtime and only lost by three at home. They then lost on the road to a very good Xavier team by 11.
Butler has already proven that they can run with the best teams in the country. But unlike previous season, they don’t appear to have the playmakers to hit crucial baskets down the stretch. Beating the best is the next step for the Bulldogs. While they have played Villanova and Oklahoma State tight, they have yet to come away with a signature win (no, beating Purdue doesn’t count).
They’ll have plenty of opportunities to beat quality opponents in the Big East, this weekend being their next big shot.
Jan. 9th – DePaul at Butler, 7:00PM
The Blue Demons come to Indianapolis with an 8-8 record, and are currently at the bottom of the Big East courtesy of being 0-3 in conference play. DePaul simply isn’t very good on offense. They’re not a good shooting team (42-percent), they turn the ball over a lot (on 20-percent of plays), and they’re even bad at the free throw line (67-percent). They only thing they do well is get offensive rebounds, but Butler is a much better rebounding team overall.
They’re slightly better on defense, but even that isn’t all that great. They’re especially bad at defending the three point line, letting opponents hit nearly 50-percent of their attempts. Kellen Dunham might as well just permanently stand by the arc and improve his 42-percent average from outside.
If the Bulldogs are hitting from outside then this game will be over before halftime. Butler really needs a convincing win to separate themselves from the bottom of the conference, and DePaul is just the team to do that.
Butler wins big Thursday night.
Jan. 11th – Georgetown at Butler, 5:00PM
The Hoyas are 10-4, and 2-1 in the conference. Georgetown is fresh off a throttling at Providence, where they lost by 18. Their two conference wins, DePaul and St. John’s, were both against the worst team in the Big East. When this team loses, its usually due to turnovers. They cough up the ball on nearly 20-percent of their possessions, averaging 13.5 turnovers per game.
The Hoyas are very good on offense, despite the turnovers, and shoot nearly 49-percent. They’re very good at getting to the free throw line, but shoot just 68-percent when they get there. Bad free throw shooting has doomed this team in close games. The good news is that Butler manages to play tight defense without fouling.
Defensively, Georgetown has a habit of fouling quite often. They foul on over half of their opponents possessions, leading to a lot of three-point plays. When they’re not fouling, they have a very good defense that limits opponents to 44-percent shooting and forces a lot of turnovers.
The game will see Indiana native, and former North Central standout, D’Vauntes Smith Rivera return to Indianapolis. He has been leading the team in scoring with 17 points per game. He does a little of everything for the Hoyas, and slowing him down will be key towards getting the signature win.
Butler can win this game, but it is going to be close. The Bulldogs really need a big win over a quality opponent, and the Hoyas are ripe for the taking.
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