Butler Bulldogs (13-6, 3-3 Big East) at Providence Friars (12-6, 3-2 Big East)
Monday, January 15, 2018 - 4:30 pm
Dunkin' Donuts Center (Providence, Rhode Island)
TV: FS1 Tim Brando & Len Elmore
Radio: 1070AM, 107.5FM
Line: Butler -1.5
All time Series: Providence leads 7-2
Last Meeting: Providence 71, #22 Butler 65 - 2/11/2017 - Dunkin' Donuts Center
Kyron Cartwright (5-11, 185) - Senior - 10.7 ppg, 6.1 apg
Jalen Lindsey (6-7, 227) - Senior - 9.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Alpha Diallo (6-7, 211) - Sophomore - 11.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Rodney Bullock (6-8, 225) - Senior - 16.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Nick Watson (6-10, 260) - Freshman - 7.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Aaron Thompson (6-2, 190) - Freshman - 5.1 ppg, 3.6 apg
Kamar Baldwin (6-1, 170) - Sophomore - 15.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Paul Jorgensen (6-2, 185) - Junior - 12.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Kelan Martin (6-7, 220) - Senior - 20.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Tyler Wideman (6-8, 240) - Senior - 9.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
3 Keys For Butler
Keep Kelan Martin Hot
Kelan Martin has been arguably the best player in the Big East since conference play started. He had a forgettable 10 point, 6 turnover performance against Creighton, but outside of that Martin has scored at least 24 points in every other conference game, including a 37 point explosion last outing in one of the most efficient scoring performances you will ever see. When Martin is on top of his game it makes Butler’s offense one of the best in the league. He’s been known to go through droughts though and has really struggled on the road this season. This would be a great time for Kelan to have a big time road game and help the Bulldogs pick up an important conference win.
Butler’s defense was tremendous in the non-conference schedule because they were one of the best in the country at forcing turnovers, even against high major teams. They forced Maryland to cough it up 20 times, Ohio State 24 times, and Purdue 18 times. That defense has been nonexistent in conference play. Through 6 games the most turnovers they have forced in a game is 12, and that was a double overtime game against a Georgetown team that ranks 308th in the country in taking care of the ball. The Bulldogs need to create turnovers to be good on defense.
Lock Up Cartwright
Kamar Baldwin did an unbelievable job of completely shutting down the league’s leading scorer in the first half on Friday. Markus Howard didn’t record a single positive stat in the first half. If Butler can do a similar job against Cartwright they have a great chance at picking up the victory. Cartwright has been battling an ankle injury but has still put up some gaudy numbers. He ranks 8th in the country and 1st in the Big East in assist rate. Cartwright can be turnover prone though. He gave it up 9 times in his 29 point performance against Marquette. Can Kamar Baldwin exploit that?
3 Keys For Providence
Dominate The FT Line
Providence is the best in the Big East (23rd in the country) at getting to the free throw line. Butler is the worst in the conference (329th). Factor in that home teams also tend to shoot more free throws and it looks clear that Providence should dominate at the charity stripe. One advantage for Butler at the line is they are much more efficient when they get there. The Bulldogs are shooting 76.3% on free throws while Providence is only hitting at a 68.5% rate. If the point differential from the free throw line is anywhere near even it’s a major victory for the Bulldogs.
Keep The Glass Under Control
Providence has struggled to keep teams off the offensive glass this season, ranking only 237th in the country in defensive rebounding. They aren’t too much better on the offensive end at 177th. The good news for the Friars is that Butler is only average at offensive rebounding, and might not be capable of fully exploiting that weakness. Butler is an excellent defensive rebounding team, so there probably won’t be a ton of second chance opportunities for Providence. They need to make sure that’s the case for Butler as well.
Win From Distance
The Bulldogs have been abysmal at knocking down 3 pointers on the road this season. They are shooting only 25.5% from distance in 8 games away from Hinkle this season. Providence is 30th in the country in 3-point percentage defense, so it’s not a good matchup on paper for the Bulldogs. Both of those stats have a large degree of luck involved, so maybe this is the game they both begin to regress back towards the mean. Butler doesn’t need to be on fire from 3 point range, but they are digging themselves a hole if they can’t shoot the ball on the road. Providence is shooting over 38% from 3 this season. If Butler once again struggles the point differential from the arc could be ghastly.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
The Bulldogs could really use a big road win to help make up for dropping a home game against Seton Hall, but I don’t like the matchups here. Butler’s most likely path to victory is by dominating the possession battle. Unfortunately the Bulldogs have only been average on the glass and have failed to force any turnovers in conference play. Butler is going to have to reverse some of these trends and get back to playing defense like they did in the non-conference in order to avoid another letdown away from Hinkle. This should be a close one that will come down to the final 5 minutes, but my gut says to take the Friars here.
Prediction: Providence 78, Butler 73