Game Preview: Butler vs. Marquette

USA TODAY Sports

Still looking for their first conference win, the Bulldogs take on a familiar foe.

When: January 18

Time: 2:00 EST

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN

How to watch: CBS Sports Network

The Butler Bulldogs took on the Marquette Golden Eagles twice last season. The total margin of victory between the two games? Three points. Butler looks to avenge its loss in the NCAA Tournament last year and just get a win, any win, in the Big East. Marquette, the preseason pick to win the Big East, needs a victory to move to 3-2 in the conference and match its longest winning streak of the season (two games).

How Butler Can Win-

The Bulldogs are in all kind of trouble in the midst of a five game losing streak. Now ranked 91st by Ken Pomeroy, Butler needs whatever kind of good break it can get. Facing a Marquette team with below-average three-point defense could be just the spark that they need. Kellen Dunham has been hot-and-cold during the conference stretch, but if he can provide an effort like what he gave against DePaul (30 points, 6-14 from three), the Bulldogs will have a good chance of winning.

Marquette isn't much of a three-point shooting team either, so Butler will need a strong defensive effort by guys like Erik Fromm and Andrew Chrabascz. Chrabascz might be the Big East's best freshman that nobody knows about at this point and his defending is the only thing between him and a starting job. Shut down someone like Davante Gardner and more minutes will come in a hurry.

How Marquette Can Win-

Gardner leads the Golden Eagles with 13.7 points per game. He's the team's most efficient scorer and has the 6th-best field goal percentage in the conference. He and Jamil Wilson will lead the Marquette attack against the worst defense in the conference (by effective field goal percentage).

At six-foot-eleven, Chris Otule will provide a mismatch in limited minutes against Butler's frontcourt. He has the third-best offensive rebounding percentage in the Big East and is making 63.5 percent of his shots from the floor. Gardner and Otule outweigh Butler's Fromm and Kameron Woods by nearly 150 pounds. They are going to try to pound it inside early and often (less than 20 percent of Marquette's points this season come from beyond the arc).

Prediction

KenPom: Butler 66, Marquette 65 (55 percent chance of Butler victory)

Butler may only be favored by Pomeroy's ratings two or three times more this season. If they can't win at home against a disappointing Marquette squad, there's just a January 25th contest against St. John's that provides as good an opportunity to avoid going o-fer in the first month of the year.

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