Game Preview: Butler vs. Providence

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Their first Big East win gives Butler some confidence heading into a three-week stretch of (mostly) road challenges. Can the Bulldogs gain some momentum?

When: January 21

Time: 9:00 EST

Where: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence RI

How to watch: Fox Sports 1

Coming off of a come-from-behind overtime victory against Marquette, the Butler Bulldogs have some added confidence going into a late-night clash with the Providence Friars. Problem is, Providence is riding high as well after knocking off the newly-crowned best team in the Big East on Saturday.

How Butler Can Win-

Butler's offensive struggles continue, with the Bulldogs slipping to 151st in the country in adjusted points per possession. Kameron Woods was able to get points in the paint last time out en route to nearly matching his career-high in points. Woods' ability to be aggressive around the basket and either make shots or get to the line (and sink his free throws) is critical for a Butler team that lacks a true post scorer.

On defense, Butler needs to avoid fouling. The Friars are the best free throw shooting team in the country and star guard Bryce Cotton gets to the line with regularity. If Alex Barlow can't keep out of foul trouble, Butler is going to give up a lot of free points.

How Providence Can Win-

One thing you can count on is that Cotton will play 40 minutes (or more). The senior has only missed two minutes of PT in the Big East, including two double-overtime games. He's second in the conference in scoring and leads the league in assists. Possibly no other player means more to his team in the Big East than Cotton and he's going to be counted on to carry the Friars every night.

Providence took down Creighton by defending the perimeter and denying the Blue Jays open looks from three-point land. Villanova can tell you how hard that is to do. Even with Kellen Dunham, Butler is a below-average three-point shooting team. If Providence's guards can take the outside shot away, Carson Desrosiers (2.6 blocks per game) should be able to dominate the paint and make it a long night for Butler's scoring attack.

Prediction

KenPom: Providence 66, Butler 60 (24 percent chance of Butler victory)

Butler is currently the underdog is seven of its next eight games after struggling to start the Big East schedule. A road win tonight (and two-game winning streak) would do wonders for the team's confidence. A loss... and you're right back where you started.

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