(OMAHA, NE) – The Butler Bulldogs (12-5) are the road team playing #25 Creighton (13-3) at CenturyLink Center this evening. Butler is 2-2 (5th) in Big East play while Creighton is 3-1 (3rd).
Projected Starting Lineups
Butler: G Aaron Thompson, G Kamar Baldwin, G Paul Jorgensen, F Kelan Martin, F Tyler Wideman
Creighton: G Davion Mintz, G Khyri Thomas, G Marcus Foster, F Toby Hegner, F Martin Krampelj
Butler has no major injuries reported going into this game.
Creighton center Jacob Epperson is out for the season with a knee injury.
Creighton enters this game ranked 3rd in the NCAA in points per game (90.7), 3rd in assists per game (19.9), 35th in rebounds per game (40.1) and 174th in points allowed per game (71.9).
Butler recently slipped in the stat rankings. They’re 62nd in points per game (80.5), T-205th in rebounds per game (35.5), T-153rd in assists per game (14.4) and 169th in points allowed per game (71.5).
This will be Butler’s fourth consecutive game facing a ranked opponent, following #1 Villanova, #5 Xavier, and #21 Seton Hall. The Dawgs take on unranked Marquette, DePaul, and Providence next.
Last 5 Games
Butler (3-2), Streak: 2L
- (Thu. 12/21) vs. Western Illinois 107-46 W
- (Wed. 12/27) @ Georgetown 91-89 W (2OT)
- (Sat. 12/30) vs. #1 Villanova 101-93 W
- (Tue. 1/2) @ #5 Xavier 86-79 L
- (Sat. 1/6) vs. #21 Seton Hall 90-87 L
Creighton (4-1), Streak: 3W
- (Wed. 12/20) vs. South Carolina Upstate 116-62 W
- (Thu. 12/28) @ #23 Seton Hall 90-84 L
- (Sun. 12/31) vs. Providence 83-64 W
- (Wed. 1/3) vs. St. John’s 78-71 W
- (Sat. 1/6) @ Georgetown 90-66 W
Creighton are 6.5 point favorites to win, according to ESPN PickCenter.
Keys to Victory
Slow down Creighton’s offense – Creighton boasts the 3rd best scoring offense in the country right now which means Butler will have to do everything in their power to stop the Bluejays from running away with the game. Guard Marcus Foster is Creighton’s leading scorer (18.8 ppg) with guard Khyri Thomas (14.9 ppg) and forward Martin Krampelj (12.7 ppg) not far behind. The Bluejay big 3 also have a solid supporting squad of 6 other players averaging 6 points per game or higher.
Butler can’t stop everyone, so they’ll have to pick their defensive match-ups carefully. The Dawgs also cannot afford to give up costly turnovers and opportunities to Creighton’s potent, hard-punishing offense.
Exploit, or be exploited – Butler and Creighton share strengths and weaknesses in similar areas, with a few differences. Both teams generally score well and play average to slightly above average defense. A big factor in the outcome of this game may be which team does a better job of exploiting the other’s defense.
Thankfully, Butler’s defense has shown flashes throughout this season, and the Dawgs have a gifted perimeter defender in Kamar Baldwin and a solid rebounder and blocker in Kelan Martin. Furthermore, Butler aberages just over 7 steals per game, nearly 3 more than Creighton.
Looking at Creighton, they have the edge in rebounding. Still, I’d have to give the team defensive edge to Butler.
Play hungry – Creighton is a great team with a lot of momentum coming off their 90-66 Big East victory against Georgetown. Meanwhile, Butler is in the midst of a two-game losing streak. No doubt the Dawgs could use a win to stay competitive in the Big East. Remember their tough, gritty play against Villanova, Georgetown, and Ohio State? The Bulldogs need to play like that…like they’re hungry for a win…if they want this one.
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