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Butler and Providence square off in a “middle-of-the-pack” battle

The Bulldogs meet the Friars in Rhode Island

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Providence Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

THE FACTS

Time and Date: Monday, January 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Records: Providence (12-6) | Butler (13-6)

Rankings: Providence (#61 KenPom) | Butler (#39 KenPom)

TV Channel: FS1 (Tim Brando, Len Elmore)

Watch Online: FOX Sports Go

Last Year: Butler walloped Providence at home on January 1, but the Friars got revenge, winning a close one in Rhode Island on February 11.


ODDS AND ENDS

(via OddsShark)

The Spread: Butler is a one-point favorite.

Over/Under: 147 points


GAME PREVIEW

Power rankings in the Big East have become a bit of a joke this year. To put it into perspective, Saint John’s, who is currently 0-6 in conference play, gave Villanova (the nation’s number one team) all it could handle on Saturday. The Wildcats narrowly escaped with a win, but the point remains – little separates the ten Big East teams.

On Monday, two teams that are firmly entrenched in the middle of the Big East standings face off in Rhode Island. The Butler Bulldogs travel to meet the Providence Friars in a match-up that could truly go either way – Vegas has Butler as a one-point favorite.

Providence and Butler have also followed similar trajectories this season. Both teams scuffled in non-conference play, but both have shown they can play with the top teams in the Big East – Butler beat Villanova, and Providence beat Xavier. Both are looking like NCAA bubble teams, and both would love to add a win to their resume tomorrow.

The similarities don’t end there. Both teams rely heavily on a couple of players, and these star players could be the deciding factor in Monday’s game. Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin lead the Bulldogs, while the Friars will look to Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock.

Will Providence defeat Butler at home for the third straight year? Or will LaVall Jordan’s Bulldogs come out on top?


KEYS TO THE GAME

Providence: Get to the line and make ‘em

Providence has had some stellar offensive performances and some disappointing ones this season, and much of that has depended on how many free throws they’ve made. While scoring 90 points against Marquette and 81 points against Xavier, they made 32 and 20 free throws, respectively. While scoring 64 against Creighton and 59 against Houston (both losses), Providence made 13 free throws in each game. Part of that has to do with attempts, and part of it has to do with poor shooting from the line. Regardless, Butler has been strong offensively in Big East play, and the Friars are going to need to take advantage of the free throw line to beat the Dawgs.

Butler: A hot start

This is not the first game where a hot start is a key to Butler’s success. In fact, it’s been a season-long challenge. Butler has started terribly in several games this year. Sometimes this resulted in losses, while other times they managed miraculous comebacks. However, some games are simply too difficult to save after a slow start, and this could be one of them. Providence is tough at home, and Butler has struggled there over the last couple of years. The Dawgs need to control the game from early on if they want to be victorious.