RANKINGS: Furman (#129 KenPom) | Butler (#51 KenPom)
RECORDS: Furman (2-0) | Butler (2-1)
TIME: 2 p.m. ET
TV CHANNEL: FS2
WATCH ONLINE: Fox Sports Go (Where Available)
SPREAD: Butler opened as 12-point faves. The line is down to 11.
O/U: The total opened at 147.5. It was downsized to 145.
RECORDS ATS: Furman (1-0) | Butler (1-1)
Former Butler Bulldogs point guard Tyler Lewis will be back in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, but this time he will be on the opposing bench. Lewis, who comes to Butler as an assistant coach for the Furman Paladins, was certainly missed by the Bulldogs in their 79-65 loss to Maryland in the Gavitt Games on Wednesday.
Lewis averaged four assists per game at Butler last year, while shooting 51.8 percent from the field. By contrast, Butler had 10 assists as a team and shot 34.3 percent against the Terps. Butler will have to improve on offense before the impending PK80 Invitational that will pit the Bulldogs against the Texas Longhorns and potentially the Duke Blue Devils in the first two rounds.
While this game may be viewed as a tune-up for Butler, Furman is not as much of a pushover as one might think. Last year, Furman beat eventual NCAA Tournament team East Tennessee State, and played close games against the likes of Winthrop and Michigan. Furman is led by Devin Sibley, who was voted the Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year for 2017-18. He scored 23 points in the Paladins’ most recent game against Elon.
Butler will look to start the game with defensive intensity and improve ball movement on offense. Against Maryland, Butler’s defense was lethargic in the first half but improved greatly in the second. Meanwhile, the offense was atrocious – according to Kamar Baldwin, the primary issue was a lack of trust between teammates and an inability to share the ball effectively.
If Butler can remedy these two ills, it should be a relatively easy win for the Dawgs, and should give them some confidence going into the PK80. However, Butler fans should not sleep on Sibley and the Paladins – an upset is entirely possible.