Game Preview: Butler vs. Ball State

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Butler goes on the road for the first time this season to take on Ball State in Muncie.

When: November 23

Time: 2:00 EST

Where: Worthen Area, Muncie, IN

How to watch: Not televised

The Butler Bulldogs head up I-69 to face the Ball St. Cardinals. At stake is Butler's first 4-0 record to start the season since 2009.

Bulldog bites

Khyle Marshall stepped up in the second half to lead Butler to an overtime win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday. Marshall scored a career-high 26 points and added three rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Kellen Dunham added 16 points while playing all but one minute of the game.

Kameron Woods ranks in the top 100 nationally for defensive rebound percentage for the third straight season (27.3 percent, good for 63rd). He was 29th last season and 88th as a freshman. He's fifth among Big East players, one spot ahead of Marshall.

Through three games, Butler is averaging 5.7 more possessions per game than last season. Their adjusted tempo is higher (70.6 possessions/game) than at any point since Ken Pomeroy started calculating the stat in 2003. Part of that is due to the new rules, but Coach Brandon Miller's team is also operating at a higher pace than most Division 1 schools. Butler has never finished a season with a higher adjusted tempo than the D-1 average.

Cardinal cables

Ball State started off the year with a loss on the road to Indiana State, a defeat that now looks better in the wake of the Sycamores' 83-70 upset of Notre Dame. On Monday, the Cardinals took down Southeast Missouri State with Zavier Turner (19 points), Jesse Berry (19), and Chris Bond (20) leading the way.

Turner is a talented freshman from Indianapolis who also received offers from Loyola (Chicago) and Saint Louis. Butler recruited him briefly, but never seriously considered offering a scholarship. Still, the 5'9" point guard can play. He's been lights-out from three-point range this year (a common thread among Butler opponents) and still needs to learn how to finish inside the arc. 17.7 points per game leads the team and he chips in nearly five assists per contest as well.

Berry looks poised to break the school record for career 3-pointers this season. He's been a prime beneficiary of tightened officiating, making 18 of his 22 free throw attempts so far this year. Fellow senior Bond led the MAC in steals a year ago, while Majok Majok was the top rebounder in the conference.

James Whitford took over the coaching reins from Billy Taylor over the summer. Whitford was a long-time Sean Miller assistant at Xavier and Arizona. Taylor struggled to achieve consistent success with the Cardinals, achieving a winning record in the MAC just twice in six years.

Prediction

KenPom: Butler 73, Ball State 67 (Butler win probability- 74 percent)

After a couple tough wins at home, Butler gets an easier opponent but has to go on the road for this one. With Turner and three other freshmen in the rotation already, Ball State could develop into a decent program under Whitford. For now, they're below-average. Butler shakes off the second half struggles and wins this one by double-digits.

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