Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Still searching for their first Big East victory, the Bulldogs host the conference's worst team.
When: January 9
Time: 7:00 EST
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN
How to watch: Fox Sports 1
The Butler Bulldogs are looking to bounce back from two straight losses to begin their tenure in the Big East. Lucky for them, the 8-8 DePaul Blue Demons are next on the schedule. DePaul fell to a banged-up Creighton team at home 81-62 on Tuesday and has now lost three straight to start conference play.
How Butler Can Win-
By getting to the line and converting free throws. Butler has struggled with foul shooting the past couple of seasons despite making well over 70 percent of their attempts for most of Brad Stevens' tenure. This year, the Bulldogs are shooting just 66 percent from the charity stripe. Kellen Dunham, a 87 percent shooter last season, has already missed more foul shots than he did a year ago. With DePaul sending opponents to the free throw line more often than any team in the Big East save Georgetown, Butler will need to take advantage of free points.
On defense, the Bulldogs need to continue with what they do well. Butler has limited its opponents to offensive rebounds on just 25 percent of missed shots, good for 6th fewest in the nation. DePaul does a good job of cleaning the offensive glass, helped out in short bursts by Purdue transfer Sandi Marcius. Kam Woods and Co. need to make sure that the Big East's second-worst shooting team doesn't get many second chances.
How DePaul Can Win-
Keep Cleveland Melvin hot. The 6'8" wing leads the team with 15.8 points per game and is deadly from long range this season. His 50 percent rate from beyond the arc leads the Big East. That's a big change from the past three years when he shot a combined 25 percent from three-point range. DePaul needs Melvin to knock down shots against a suffocating Butler perimeter defense in order to be competitive.
By shutting down the lane. Butler has struggled at times to get reliable points in the paint. Only St. John's has blocked more shots than DePaul this season and the Blue Demons have the kind of size that could give Butler trouble.
KenPom: Butler 73, Butler 63 (85 percent chance of Butler victory)
Butler gets its first Big East win with solid defense and an on-form Kellen Dunham. DePaul has some solid senior leadership in Melvin, Marcius, and Brandon Young, but was absolutely torched by Creighton's three-point shooters. That won't fly against the Bulldogs either.