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Georgetown hosts Butler to kick off conference play

Let the Big East battles begin!

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Butler Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

THE FACTS

Time and Date: December 27 @ 6:30 p.m. ET

Records: Butler (10-3) | Georgetown (10-1)

Rankings: Butler (#44 KenPom) | Georgetown (#96 KenPom)

TV Channel: FS1

Watch Online: FOX Sports Go

Last Year: On January 7, Butler beat Georgetown in DC, 85-76 in OT. Georgetown got revenge at Hinkle Fieldhouse, winning 85-81 on January 28.


ODDS AND ENDS

(via OddsShark)

The Spread: Georgetown is a four-point favorite.

Over/Under: 145 points


GAME PREVIEW

Rejoice, fans of the Bulldogs and the Hoyas, or perhaps tremble in fear – Big East play is about to begin. Both teams have to be happy with their opening match-up. While neither team is a pushover, neither team is Villanova either. Both fan bases are likely expecting their team to win this game, and the four-point spread (in favor of Georgetown) reflects the could-go-either-way nature of this contest.

Butler and Georgetown were picked to finish eighth and ninth in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll. But both teams have a chip on their shoulder and loftier ambitions. Georgetown was 10-1 in the nonconference slate, but its strength of schedule (or the lack thereof) has been mercilessly attacked by detractors. Butler had a more impressive schedule, but lost to three of the four toughest teams they faced. The identity of both teams is still hanging in the balance.

The Hoyas need a win to prove to themselves that they can beat good teams and contend in the Big East. The Bulldogs need a win because, quite frankly, they may not see very many wins in the early going of conference play. The Villanova-Xavier-Seton Hall-Creighton stretch following the Georgetown game is one that no team in the country would envy.

The matchup also pits two first-year Big East coaches against each other. Patrick Ewing and LaVall Jordan both played for the teams they currently coach, and both are hoping to help their alma mater’s program transition into a prosperous era.

Will either of these teams surprise in the Big East? In a league where every win counts, a win on Tuesday night will give one team a great advantage going forward.


KEYS FOR EACH TEAM

Butler: A Hot Start

The key for the Bulldogs is a hot start. Butler has been plagued this year by first half struggles, and when the Bulldogs shoot poorly, every facet of their game suffers. LaVall Jordan has noted that the Bulldogs get distracted and lazy on defense when they’re not shooting well.

However, just as Butler struggles to combat poor shooting, the Bulldogs also feed off of hot shooting. When the Bulldogs are shooting well, their offense seems unstoppable and their defense gets better. In their last game against Western Illinois, Butler came out of the gates shooting the lights out. They fed off of the energy to shine on both ends of the floor. The Bulldogs ended up winning by 61.

If Butler struggles shooting early, especially on the road, the Hoyas will likely prove too much for them. Butler needs Kelan Martin, Paul Jorgensen, and Kamar Baldwin to lead the early charge from the field.

Georgetown: Move the Ball

Jessie Govan has been Georgetown’s best player, dominating in the paint and getting to the line. Butler is tough in the middle, and tends to neutralize skilled post players. However, Butler has been absolutely torched by skilled guards. They are often slow to rotate around the perimeter and slow to close out on threes.

The Hoyas should definitely go to Govan often, but he needs to keep his head on a swivel and be ready to kick the ball out. Butler will try to swallow him up in the middle, and three-point or slashing opportunities will be open for the likes of Jagan Mosely and Jamorko Pickett. Govan’s assist-to-turnover ratio (which is slightly positive so far this year) may be an indicator of how this game turns out.

Georgetown will get stifled if they let the ball stay in one place too long, but if the Hoyas use their athleticism to attack in transition and whip the ball around, they might be able to hang a lot points on Butler.