A few days ago, Robert O'Neill, our Managing Editor, tweeted, "These are the two best teams in the Big East, by far. No disrespect to Georgetown or Providence." in regards to Butler and Villanova after their classic game. As we later learned, Butler's Andrew Chrabascz broke his hand in that game. Is Butler still the second best team? Let's take a look.
With the loss of Chrabascz, Butler will lose a big presence. He was the third leading scorer on the team because he was averaging 11.1 points per game. Also, a lot of the Bulldogs offense goes through the big man on the block, which spreads the offense for guys like Alex Barlow and Kellen Dunham, who are both good shooters. Dunham is shooting 41.6 percent from behind the arc, while Barlow is shooting 39.4 percent.
The impact that Chrabascz had on the team was huge because when Roosevelt Jones was not going, he would be the man down in the paint doing a lot of the dirty work and has a physical presence. It will force Butler to change the starting lineup and the way the offense runs as Butler head coach Chris Holtmann noted.
In an article by Michael Pointer of the IndyStar, Butler head coach said this about Chrabascz and the impact he had, "He can throw some weight around," Holtmann said. "He gives us a physical presence that we need. It's no secret we played through him offensively a lot. It's going to force us to change some things."
The next two players on Butler's bench that will need to step up are Tyler Wideman and Indiana transfer Austin Etherington. Wldeman has not been as effective as he was when he was getting quality minutes off the bench. The last decent game that he had was against Xavier when he scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds in Butler's 88-76 win over the Musketeers. For Etherington, he is more of an outside threat for the team and would not help as much as Wideman would because he is primarily an outside shooter.
The one player who I think will get the start Kelan Martin, who has been the Bulldogs' best player on the bench, even though he is only averaging 7.8 points per game. The good with making that move is that they will be able to play him on the wing instead of a post position, but the bad thing that comes with that move is the amount of depth that they will have in the backcourt. Now with all that being said, are the Bulldogs still second best team in the conference?
With the loss of Chrabascz, I do think that Butler will be affected. It will put pressure on whoever replaces Chrabascz in the starting lineup because no one on that bench will have the same impact that he had. In each of Butler's next few games, the two things that will affect them are the depth factor and the question of who will produce in the front court outside of Roosevelt Jones.
Looking at Georgetown and Providence, either one of those teams could be the second best team in the conference. Georgetown can be the second best team based off the games that they have coming up. They have a big man that can not be stopped unless he stops himself (Joshua Smith) and also Mikael Hopkins, who has been huge in the front court.The depth of the Hoyas is really is what keeping this team in good shape, because of how good the freshmen are coming off the bench.
On the other hand, you can't count Providence out because they have two of the best players in the conference in Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton. Henton is averaging 20.5 points per game, while Dunn is averaging 15.4, but they both do a lot of small things that do not always get recognized. The freshmen on the team are playing very well, especially Ben Bentill, who causes problems for opponents.
It will be a battle for the second seed in the conference, but it will be interesting to watch because the first seed is already solidified by Villanova. Butler will be battling for the second seed also, but it will be interesting to see how the replacement of Chrabascz affects Butler, because he will be missed.