Well, here we are. Only two weekends of Big East basketball left before the conference tournament, and the Butler Bulldogs and DePaul Blue Demons could not be in two more different positions. Butler (20-8, 10-5 Big East) is currently ranked No. 23 in the country, falling a few spots after a big loss at Xavier last weekend, but has won nine of their last twelve including a stretch of five straight. DePaul (12-17, 6-10 Big East), on the other hand, has lost five straight and eight of their last nine games. Here's three things to watch for:
1. Can Billy Garrett bounce back?
Garrett, Jr., DePaul's star sophomore guard, followed up a dismal eight point, 2-of-13 shooting performance against Georgetown with another quiet eight point performance in a loss to Creighton earlier this week. He was a non-factor in their loss to the Bulldogs back in early February, dropping just six points on 1-of-6 shooting while Jamee Crockett carried the load for most of the second half. If the Blue Demons want to break the streak, they're going to need more from their top scoring option, especially after a pair of disappointing performances over the last week.
2. Kellen Dunham's hot streak
Dunham's been heating up faster than a microwave in the month of February, scoring 19 or more points in every game but one (the Xavier loss) since the Bulldogs first saw DePaul on February 7. He scored 24 points in that game, hitting four threes to pull Butler away in the second half. Dunham's coming off of a 22 point performance in Butler's smackdown of Marquette earlier this week, where he once again hit four threes, and his dominance lately has been a big part of why the Bulldogs have stayed afloat in Andrew Chrabsacz's absence.
3. A freshman breaks out
Speaking of Chrabascz's absence, Butler freshman Tyler Wideman has been the biggest beneficiary of the added playing time in the post. Wideman has started the last three games, and put up an impressive eight point, eight rebound stat line against Marquette on Wednesday before fouling out. Wideman is unbelievably strong in the paint, and while his offensive game still needs some work, he's a big body that makes things tough for opposing players inside. His performance against the Golden Eagles is really promising for the Bulldogs, as it's still unclear when exactly Chrabascz will be back this season.