Butler badly needs a conference win. Are the visiting Hoyas a suitable target?
When: January 11
Time: 7:00 EST
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN
How to watch: Fox Sports 1
Remember when the Butler Bulldogs were of the luckiest teams in the country to start the year? Not anymore. After three straight tough losses to begin their Big East tenure, The Bulldogs now rank 277th in the country in luck. They've played well for the most part, but just can't seem to figure out how to win close games in 2014. Saturday's contest with the Georgetown Hoyas is as close to a "must win" for Butler's postseason hopes as any game you'll see in mid-January.
How Butler Can Win-
Butler faces a Georgetown team that is down a few notches from the past two seasons. After boasting the 10th and 2nd most efficient defenses in the country in 2012 and 2013, the Hoyas are struggling a bit more on both ends of the court without Otto Porter.
Butler's offensive gameplan will be determined in part by the availability of big man Joshua Smith for Georgetown. Smith sat out Wednesday's game against Providence due to an academic situation. Without him in the lineup, Georgetown allowed the Friars to make 52% of their two point attempts and roll to their first Big East win. Butler will look to repeat that success by getting Khyle Marshall and Kellen Dunham some freedom to drive to the hoop.
On defense, Butler needs to take advantage of a Hoya team that has had trouble taking care of the basketball at times this year. Georgetown coughed it up 15 times against Providence and has a higher turnover percentage than any Big East team save DePaul.
How Georgetown Can Win-
Joshua Smith plays. The UCLA transfer got a waiver to suit up right away at Georgetown this season and has made an instant impact with 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while averaging just 19.9 minutes a contest. At 6'10", 350 lbs., Smith can't be relied upon for long stretches and struggled in Georgetown's first two Big East games before sitting out, but he has exactly the kind of post game that has given Butler's frontcourt fits so far this year.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera should lead Georgetown whether or not Smith is available. The sophomore shooting guard has improved his outside shot this year (49 percent from three) and gets hist 17.2 points per game from all over the floor. His total shot percentage (65.4 percent) is second-best in the conference.
KenPom: Butler 67, Georgetown 66 (53 percent chance of Butler victory)
No way around it, Butler needs this one to keep hopes of a seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years alive. A loss would drop the Bulldogs to 0-4 in the league with an even tougher trip to Creighton coming up.