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Providence, Butler to clash at Hinkle on Saturday

After losing three straight, Butler hopes to right the ship with a home game against Providence

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars (17-9, 8-5 Big East) and Butler Bulldogs (17-10, 7-7 Big East) are set to match up at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in a Saturday tip at high noon.

Saturday’s game will be the 11th meeting between these two schools. They’ve only ever faced off as Big East opponents. Providence leads the series 8-2.

Major Keys

Time & Place: Noon ET, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

TV: FOX (Kevin Kugler, Stephen Bardo)

Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM (Providence; John Rooke, Joe Hassett); WFNI 107.5 FM/1070 AM (Butler; Mark Minner, Nick Gardner)

Streaming: FOX Sports GO

Gambling (via OddsShark): Butler opened as 8.5-point favorites. The Bulldogs are 13-13 against the spread this season, while Providence is 9-16 on the year.

About the Friars

Providence is riding high coming off of an upset of No. 3 Villanova at home on Valentine’s Day. The victory balanced out their bizarre 17-point loss to DePaul the previous game. The Friars will hope to bring that same energy to Butler on Saturday afternoon.

The four-man core of seniors Rodney Bullock, Kyron Cartwright, and Jalen Lindsey and sophomore Alpha Diallo have led the charge as Providence sits tied with Creighton for third in the Big East.

Diallo’s 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in conference play leads the team. Meanwhile, Cartwright leads the team with 6.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game in Big East matchups.

Defense will very much be the key to taking down Butler on the road. The Friars have held conference opponents to 74.9 points per game and 32.2 percent shooting from 3-point range. Both numbers are best in the Big East.

About the Bulldogs

Butler have hit a rough patch late in the conference schedule. The Bulldogs have lost three straight games, falling to Xavier (in overtime), Villanova, and Georgetown. This slump comes immediately after winning four consecutive games to close out January.

However, the Bulldogs have remained competitive despite the story seas. Their Xavier and Georgetown have been by five points or less. Meanwhile, they held a three-point lead at halftime in their road game against Villanova. Unfortunately, they were outscored 51-37 in the second half.

Butler has been paced by Kelan Martin. His 23.4 points per game in conference play leads the Big East. His 3-point shooting is a potent offensive weapon, as he is shooting 41.6 percent from outside in conference play (10th in the Big East) on 7.2 attempts per game.

If Butler wants to turn things around in the win column, the difference will come at the free throw line. The Bulldogs averaged 20.8 free throw attempts per game during their winning streak and only allowed 18.8 per game. However, they’ve averaged 14.7 attempts per game during this losing streak while allowing 26.7 attempts per game.