There are few “gimmes” in the Big East. This may constitute as one, as Providence hosts the 11-10 Butler Bulldogs. Butler is 3-7 in conference and coming off a shellacking from both Creighton and Connecticut. In their first match-up, Providence beat Butler by 20 and held them to 52 points. Below, we’ll discuss what Providence needs to do to capture another Big East conference victory, as they look to stay on pace with Marquette and Xavier at the top of the Big East.
Game 1 Preview and Recap
Keys to Game
Lean on Your Studs – Butler doesn’t have anybody who can effectively guard Devin Carter and Bryce Hopkins. Carter scored 21 in their first match-up, while Hopkins only went for 6 and 8. I can see Carter replicating a 15+ point game, and I don’t see Hopkins going 2-8 against Butler again. I’d expect Hopkins to tally another double double on the season.
Providence should work the offense through these two, which will then help set up Locke. I anticipate Carter and Hopkins to total 35-40 points for the Friars in this one.
Locke: Stay Grounded – Often times, a player will be wildly erratic following an explosive performance like Noah Locke had against DePaul. I’m hopeful he is efficient with his looks and doesn’t force the offense. Locke is going to get plenty of opportunities, but he needs to make sure they are quality shot attempts. His inconsistency is the only constant at this point in his Friar career, but I’m hopeful that he strings together another solid performance at home. He didn’t fare too well in the first match-up, going 2-10 from the floor and 1-6 from 3. If he doesn’t force the issue, I see another 10+ point game from him.
Status of Manny Bates: Bates has been injured the last few games and unable to play. It’s not clear if he will suit up against Providence. Bates had 12 and 5 in the first one, while Croswell went for 15 and 10. If Bates is unable to play, Croswell should put up another double double with ease. Butler doesn’t have a lot of size with experience at the collegiate level outside of Bates and Thomas.
Status of Jared Bynum: The never-ending storyline in Friartown continues. After hearing Cooley’s comments about Bynum post DePaul game, I’d be shocked if he suits up in this one. It’s probably a best practice for Friar fans to assume he isn’t playing until told otherwise, as this injury seems to be lingering (to no fault of Bynum’s).
PC Needs to Play Sound Defense – Butler doesn’t have a true facilitator at guard so a lot of their offense is predicated around 1:1 play. This plays into Providence’s defensive strategy perfectly, as they thrive in man to man defense. In the first match-up, Butler shot 35% from the floor, 13% from deep, and totaled only 9 assists.
The only way I see Butler winning this game is if they convert a high percentage of contested, difficult shots and are above 50% from 3. All of Butler’s looks in the first game were not of the high quality variety, and that is due to both a lack of point guard and PC’s swarming man defense. I don’t see that changing for them.
BOC: Even with a subpar showing from Hopkins and Locke, Providence was still able to win on the road against Butler by 20. Because this season continues to boggle my mind, I’ll go with a 10 point victory 78-68. Butler has a better offensive showing and keeps it somewhat close before PC pulls away in a similar fashion to what they did against DePaul.
The Crier: Blowout City. 82-61.