After a roller coaster first two days for both the Butler Bulldogs and Georgetown Hoyas in the Bahamas, the Big East foes will square off in the third-place "non-conference" game to close out the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. If I was lazy, I could take the three storylines, split them up into field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage, and talk about Butler's need to get better at all three, but I digress. Here's what to watch for during Friday's pseudo-Big East showdown:
1. Can Butler find a way to take the lid off?
Okay, maybe I am going to talk about Butler's offensive woes. But we have to, right? The Bulldogs have been ice cold from the floor all tournament long, shooting just 30.6 percent against No. 5 North Carolina on Wednesday, and following that up with a 23.7 percent team field goal percentage during Thursday's loss to Oklahoma. It didn't matter as much during the upset victory over the Tar Heels because the team also grabbed 29 offensive rebounds, but the Bulldogs didn't dominate the glass the same way against the Sooners and their inability to score ultimately swung the game.
Despite having solid shooters in the lineup with Kellen Dunham, Kelan Martin, Alex Barlow, Austin Etherington and even Andrew Chrabascz, the team has struggled to score from all over, including their looks at the rim. Look for the Bulldogs to try and break the slump on Friday.
2. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's hot streak
It's probably safe to say that Smith-Rivera's early season scoring struggles are over, as the junior guard is averaging 23 points per game in the Bahamas, including a 29-point explosion against No. 2 Wisconsin on Thursday. After going cold from three through the Hoyas' first four games, Smith-Rivera torched the Badgers, hitting five of his six attempts from deep. He's scored in double digits for three games in a row, cementing himself as the strongest Big East performer in the Battle 4 Atlantis, and even came in at No. 3 on Jay Bilas' "Wooden Watch" today during the Butler-Oklahoma game.
He'll most likely be guarded by Butler's Alex Barlow, who held North Carolina's Marcus Paige and Oklahoma's Buddy Hield in check already this week, which will make for a fun matchup for both squads.
3. A Big East matchup in November?
Seriously, how awesome is this? While all eyes will certainly be on the Wisconsin-Oklahoma final later in the afternoon, how often do two conference foes get to take an early peek at one another like this in tournament play? Butler will have to keep up with the athleticism of the Hoyas, and Georgetown needs to find another reliable source of outside shooting. Both teams, like everyone in the country, are still working out the kinks, but it's going to be fun to get an early preview of Big East basketball.
As always, enjoy the game!