How to watch, stream, or listen
Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Odds: Butler enters the game as a 5 ½ point underdog.
Record ATS: Butler (1-0) || Maryland (2-0)
O/U: Not available for this game.
Last Time They Met: 2007 NCAA Tournament 2nd Round, Butler won the contest 62-57.
3 Things to Watch For:
Can Aaron Thompson keep it going?
The 2017 recruiting class was heralded as the best in Butler history, and although it's early, it appears Aaron Thompson is going to be the best of the bunch. With Thompson at the point, Butler gets into half-court sets quickly and moves the ball around with a crispness that the first unit lacks. As more of a true point guard than starters Kamar Baldwin and Paul Jorgensen, who tend to probe and look for their own shot first before looking to involve others, Thompson brings a pace and rhythm to the offense that makes it easier for the other offensive weapons to get going.
He’s been especially impressive through the early season with his ability to penetrate. With a quick first step and tight handle, he’s able to get to the rim and finish with either hand. If Thompson can continue to get into the lane it should open up more looks for shooters like Kelan Martin and Sean McDermott on the outside. Those looks could go a long way in helping Butler raise its early season 3-point percentage from a lowly 27 percent.
Can Butler get enough stops?
Plain and simple, the defense was not good enough in the Sunday night win over Princeton. The effort and engagement was there for the most part, but the ‘Dawgs were beaten far too frequently on drives to the basket. Compounding the problem, Butler’s help rotations were either nonexistent or too late to do anything but foul. The Dawgs went to a 3-2 zone for stretches of the second half to try and remedy the problem, with mixed results, giving up a few wide-open threes.
Tigers guards Amir Bell and Myles Stephens both dropped over 20 points on Sunday, shooting over 50 percent from the field collectively. Probably should avoid letting opposing perimeter players do that going forward. Butler’s going to have to be better both on ball, and on help rotations if they hope to contain Maryland’s sophomore trio of Kevin Huerter, Anthony Cowan, and Justin Jackson (The last time the Dawgs played someone named Justin Jackson it. did. not. end. well).
Can the Dawgs stay out of foul trouble?
Tyler Wideman fouled out of the Bulldogs 85-75 win over Princeton. Kamar Baldwin has found himself in early foul trouble in both of Butler’s first two games, limiting his first-half impact in both games. Baldwin is Butler’s best perimeter defender and has the lateral quickness to stay with any guard in the country. He also has the ability to pick anyone’s pocket and go the other way for an easy two (cc: Hart, Josh).
On the other hand, Wideman is Butler’s only player with any sort of ability to protect the rim. If he can stay on the court it should help solve some of the rotation issues on the inside. Butler will need him and Baldwin on the court for extended periods if they want to come away with a valuable road win.
After this contest, Butler will host Furman, and former point guard turned Furman assistant coach Tyler Lewis, on Saturday before traveling to Oregon and facing off against the 5-star prospect Mo Bamba and Texas in its opening game of the PK80 tournament.