Time and Date: Saturday, February 3 @ 12:00 p.m. ET
Records: DePaul (9-12, 2-7 Big East) | Butler (16-7, 6-4 Big East)
Rankings: DePaul (#118 KenPom) | Butler (#21 KenPom)
TV Channel: FS1
Watch Online: FOX Sports Go
Previous Match-up: On January 20 in Chicago, Butler beat DePaul 79-67 – the game was not as close as the score might indicate.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Spread: Butler opened as a 12.5-point favorite, but the line has since moved to 14 points.
Over/Under: 145.5 points
The Butler Bulldogs are absolutely rolling right now and their next opponent, DePaul, deserves some of the credit for that. After a disappointing loss to Providence in which Butler looked extremely flat, the Bulldogs traveled to Chicago to face DePaul on January 20. Butler raced out to a 41-19 lead at halftime and the Dawgs still haven’t slowed down. Butler comes into Saturday’s re-match against DePaul having won three games in a row by an average of 19.3 points. With a 6-4 conference record, Butler has its sights set on finishing in the top four (or even top three?) of the Big East.
DePaul, meanwhile, has met expectations by staggering to a 2-7 conference record. After a thrilling win against Georgetown, DePaul was waxed by Seton Hall on Sunday. Based on the previous match-up of Butler and DePaul, and the fact that Saturday’s game is being played at Hinkle Fieldhouse where Butler has been nearly unbeatable (we see you, Seton Hall), the Bulldogs seem to be a safe bet.
However, DePaul fans can perhaps find hope in the fact that the Blue Demons outscored Butler by 10 points in the second half of their last match-up. DePaul actually poured in 48 points in that half, so perhaps Dave Leitao has discovered some gaping hole in the Butler defense.
Should Butler be on upset alert? I don’t know, I’m probably just grasping at straws here. But THEY PLAY THE GAMES FOR A REASON.
KEYS TO THE GAME
DePaul: Make someone other than Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin beat you
Easier said than done, I know. Martin and Baldwin have been two of the top five scorers in Big East play, so it’s not like DePaul is the only team struggling to contain them. In the last match-up, however, Martin and Baldwin had 24 and 18 points while no other Butler player finished in double figures. As Villanova (Jorgensen) and Marquette (Wideman) have found out, Butler does have other weapons. But you stand a much better chance of beating the Dawgs if you can make things difficult for the two alpha dawgs.
Butler: Make someone other than Max Strus beat you
Strus got off to a slow start against Butler last time, but he got red hot, scoring 20 points in the second half. He played well enough that for a split-second it looked like DePaul might make a game out of it. Unlike Butler (see paragraph above), DePaul has not really proven that it has other weapons besides Strus. In fact, DePaul hasn’t really proved it can win even with Strus playing well, but that’s beside the point. The point is, if DePaul beats Butler, I would imagine it involves Strus making about 10 three-pointers. If Butler can prevent an explosive performance from Strus, it should be a relatively easy win.