After an easy start to the season, Butler gets its first real test against a decent Princeton team.
When: November 16
Time: 8:00 EST
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
How to watch: Fox Sports 2
The Butler Bulldogs look to keep up their string of high-powered offensive performances against a Princeton Tigers squad that returns four starters. Last season, the Tigers missed out on an NCAA Tournament bid by dropping two games in the final weekend. This year, they're looking to prove that Harvard isn't the only team to watch in the Ivy League. A win on the road against a major conference foe would go a long way to putting Princeton on the map.
Butler shook off poor shooting nights by two of their biggest scorers and cruised to a 89-58 win over Lamar to start the season. Kellen Dunham and Elijah Brown both struggled to get their shots to fall from long-range. Senior Khyle Marshall shouldered the load with a double-double (19 points, 13 rebounds). Kameron Woods and Erik Fromm added 11 and 10 points each down low.
The Bulldogs move from one of their shortest opponents to one of the tallest (Princeton has the 24th greatest average height in the nation, Lamar was 346th). If the shots don't fall early, Butler will find it a lot more difficult to pound away in the paint. Kameron Woods will be relied upon to provide a double-digit rebounding night and create second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass.
Watch to see how Dunham and Brown respond to an off-night last week. Dunham was still able to provide points against Lamar by getting to the free throw line while shooting 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. Brown, not so much. A good night for Butler means getting their top two shooters going early and sprinkling in some Khyle Marshall drives to the hoop. A little more reliable defense wouldn't hurt either.
Princeton loses the Ivy League Player of the Year in Ian Hummer. Hummer really carried the team on offense, using 29.7 percent of possessions (top 50 in the nation). This year it will be more of an ensemble cast.
Denton Koon played very well in the opener against Florida A&M, scoring 17 and adding 11 rebounds. He came off the bench to begin this season after starting most of last year. Coach Mitch Henderson might have Koon back in the starting lineup against Butler, but no matter what the junior forward will play significant minutes.
T.J. Bray and Will Barrett are the team's other top two scorers. Bray injured his hand in the preseason and did not play against Florida A&M. He is doubtful for Princeton's backcourt on Saturday. Barrett is a 6-foot-10 center who can step out and shoot the three (51.6 percent on 93 attempts from beyond the arc last year). As a team, Princeton was the fifth-best three point shooting squad in the county a year ago and will rely even more heavily on the deep ball this season.
KenPom: Butler 64, Princeton 56 (Butler win probability- 82 percent)
Princeton keeps it close early, but Butler pulls away again late. A lot depends on Princeton's three-point shooting. If the Tigers come out firing, look for an upset. If Butler can play strong perimeter defense, the Bulldog guards and Khyle Marshall will put up enough points for the win.
*Class of 2014*
Butler signed two recruits on Wednesday as the NCAA's fall signing period kicked off. Forwards Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman make up Coach Brandon Miller's first recruiting class. Martin is the more highly-touted of the two, cracking ESPN's top 100. He picked Butler over Saint Louis and Texas Tech last month. Wideman, a Merrillville, IN native, also had offers from Bradley and Central Michigan.