Game Preview: Creighton vs. Butler

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Now beginning the back half of their schedule, the Creighton Bluejays head to Nap Town to take on the Butler Bulldogs.

Teams: Creighton (19-4; 9-2) vs. Butler (12-12; 2-10)

Day: Thursday, Feb. 13

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Indiana

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 1620 KOZN-AM (Creighton) or WFNI 1070 The Fan (Butler)

Creighton Storylines

It seems like this is a road that we have traveled along before.

The Creighton Bluejays are two days away from a big-time showdown with the Villanova Wildcats. To get there however, the Bluejays have to go through a road test. Last time, the Bluejays had to go up against the Providence Friars, and the threat was real. As we would soon find out, Providence was not a team to be messed with inside the Dunkin Donuts Center, where the Bluejays arguably suffered their most deflating loss of the season.

Now, here we stand, with the Bluejays primed to take on the Wildcats three nights from now. But instead of a daunting set of circumstances lying ahead, there lies somewhat of a minor speed bump.

The Butler Bulldogs have struggled mightily this season. In their first year in the BIG EAST, the program that went to the National Championship Game two years in a row has seen the clock strike midnight and that once proud carriage they rode on has since deflated into a proverbial potato, ridden by mice.

On the front, the Bluejays appear to be vastly superior. They possess one of the top offenses in the country. The best player in the country does almost everything for them. Their role players are staying in check and doing what is asked of them. Outside of their hiccup at "The World's Most Famous Arena" last Sunday, and their defeat at "The Dunk," the transition to the BIG EAST for Creighton has been seamless.

This seems all too familiar. Is Creighton going to fall victim yet again to the trap right before their highly touted matchup against the Villanova Wildcats?

Only time will tell.

Butler Storylines

Basking in the life of the big time has not been so kind to the Butler Bulldogs.

Once America's sweetheart, the Bulldogs have seen their hearts broken as we walk into this showdown on the eve of Valentine's Day.

The Bulldog offense is far from intimidating, 178th in the U.S.A. in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, 268th in Effective FG%, and 287th in 3PT FG%.

Just one Bulldog has a 3PT FG% at 40.0 percent or better, and just two are shooting above 48.6 percent on two-point opportunities.

Cinderella, meet your ugly, mean stepsister.

Although the season appears to be nothing short of a lost cause, a role of spoiler is still ripe for the taking. The Bulldogs play the Bluejays, the St. John's Red Storm, the Providence Friars and the Wildcats in their next four matchups.

With the Johnnies and the Friars dealing with life on the bubble, Butler finds themselves in an interesting scenario, and one could pose an interesting question to the Bulldogs as they enter this stretch:

"Kill or be killed?"

X-Factors

For Creighton, this will not be about a player this time around. No, instead, the focus should be on Creighton's rebounding efforts. The have certainly proven to be egregious in the category of offensive rebounding, ranking 238th in the country in the department. When Butler is on the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs do a good job of hounding their opponents and refusing to let them get second chance opportunities. The Bulldog defense is 36th in the country in limiting offensive rebounds, limiting teams to grab them at a rate of just 28.3 percent. The Division 1 average, for context, is 31.6 percent.

Meanwhile, for Butler I think that junior Kameron Woods is set to have a big game for the aforementioned reasons. Creighton has had difficulty at fending off big bodies in the rebounding department, and Woods is a player who could give them trouble. The junior from Louisville, Ky. is averaging nine rebounds per game in the 2013-14 season, and 6.6 over his last five games. If Woods and the Bulldogs can set the edge in the rebounding department, and limit second chance opportunities for the potent Bluejay offense, the possibilities open up.

Four Factors

Team/Factor

Effective FG%

Turnover%

Off. Rebounding%

FTA/FGA

Creighton

58.1

15.2

29.5

33.6

Butler

47.4

15.7

30.1

38.5

The Prediction

Before the season, this writer had the Bluejays falling to the Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse. That was under the impression that the Bulldogs would not be struggling to the degree that they are now at this point of the season. While nothing can be completely written off, let's say that it would most likely take a very off night for the Bluejays to take a stumble at Hinkle Fieldhouse. But, beware of the trap. Hopefully, for their sake, Creighton has learned their lesson in that department.

Creighton 75 Butler 62

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