The opening tip-off of BIG EAST games saw undefeated Xavier fall to Villanova and Butler fall to Kris Dunn and Providence. It was shocking to see both teams, who started off great in nonconference play, lose in their conference openers. But we still have a ways to go.
The Xavier Musketeers showed they were the cream of the crop in the BIG EAST during nonconference play as they went 12-0 to begin the season. The Musketeers flashed their dominance as they beat the likes of Cincinnati and Michigan in Ann Arbor in their great start to the season.
Chris Mack had this team firing on all cylinders as they headed into their first BIG EAST game against No. 16 Villanova. But that all went awry as the were thrashed by 'Nova 95-64. To make matters worse, Edmond Sumner took a hard fall during the game and had to be stretched off the court. Thankfully though, no serious injury occurred to Xavier's freshman point guard.
Like Xavier, the Butler Bulldogs had a solid nonconference record heading into their first game against Providence. With wins over the likes of the Bearcats and the vaunted Purdue Boilermakers, confidence was running high for the Bulldogs. But they lost their first game 81-73 to the Providence Friars as their comeback fell just short. Regarded as one of the top offenses in the nation, Butler struggled to score points in their first conference game and they will have to be on their A-game against Xavier.
This will be one of the matchups to watch as two top ten teams face off. Get the popcorn ready.
How to Watch, Listen, Stream
Game Time: 1 p.m. ET
Listen: 1070 AM/ 93.5 FM (Butler) || 55KRC (Xavier)
Stream: Streaming is available for this telecast via FOX Sports GO (where available).
Line: Xavier comes into this game as a 4.5 favorite (via OddsShark)
Records ATS: Butler (7-6) || Xavier (9-4)
O/U: The O/U opened at 153.5.
3 Things to Watch
1. Do It all Roosevelt Jones: Although Kellen Dunham leads the Bulldogs in scoring with about 15 points per game, it's Roosevelt Jones' team. Jones leads Butler in assists and rebounding and is also 3rd on the team in scoring. He had 19 points and six rebounds against Providence and will be a big key for BU's plans going forward. The 'Dawgs don't need him to take over a game as he has trouble shooting from outside the paint and they already have the likes of Dunham on the wing. He just needs to control the tempo and get to the paint. He's Mr. Everything for Butler.
2. Can the Butler offense bounce back?: As previously mentioned, the Bulldogs struggled in terms of points scored against the Friars. Some credit should be given to PC's defense, but a team like Butler simply should be doing better. They usually score an average of 88.6 points per game, good for third highest in the country, but they failed to hit 80 against Providence. They will face a tough task as Xavier boasts a solid defense as well. The Musketeers only allow 65.9 points per game and it will be a tough battle between Butler's offense and Xavier's defense.
3. Who can control the glass?: Xavier is one of the top rebounding teams in the country. X averages roughly 41.9 rebounds per game, good for 27th in the country. Butler isn't too shabby either however as they average around 39.9 rebounds per game. Whichever team can control the glass will have a major advantage in this game. Considering that Butler likes to shoot a lot, if Xavier can limit the opportunities the Bulldogs have on the offensive end, it could be a dominant game for the X.