It hasn’t been an ideal start to 2019 for LaVall Jordan and the Butler Bulldogs.
They are currently 8th in the Big East standings and have been struggling. After getting blown out by 34 points at the hands of the Florida Gators, Butler has stumbled in conference play. They have lost their last two games and three of their last four. Butler is tied with Creighton in terms of overall record at 10-7, but one more bad game would see them falling further down the standings.
That isn’t to say that these losses haven’t been close. In their last two games, BU has lost has been by a combined total of merely two points. Yes, you did read that sentence correctly. They suffered a heartbreaking loss in their last game, as the Musketeers rallied back from a double-digit deficit late in the second half and won, 70-69. Naji Marshall knocked down the game winning free throw with around 30 seconds left to complete a frantic comeback.
It was a tough pill for the Bulldogs to swallow, but they have to rebound quickly as they have two games in three days this week.
The DePaul Blue Demons meanwhile will be looking defend home court. And they will be feeling pretty good about themselves. They come into this matchup with Butler riding a two-game win streak and most recently beat one of the best teams in the conference. On Saturday, the Blue Demons walked into Carnesecca Arena and beat the St. John’s Red Storm, 79-71. Even though the Johnnies were missing their best player in Shamorie Ponds, this was still a huge win for Dave Leitao and his group. They were able to go on the road and defeat a tough opponent, despite Max Strus not having his best game. Strus only scored 14 in this one, and it was The Femi Olujobi Show in New York. The forward dropped 27 points on 11 of 19 shooting from the field and grabbed 8 boards as well.
DePaul also got contributions from Paul Reed with 18 and Eli Cain stepped up with 14 of his own. The win improved DePaul’s record to 10-5 and 2-2 in conference play, good enough for 6th in the Big East. For a team which went 11-20 all of last season, this is a huge improvement and a win against Butler can be an even bigger momentum booster.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul) || 107.5 FM/1070 AM (Butler)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Odds: Butler is a 3-point favorite heading into this one (via Oddsshark.com)
Record ATS: DePaul (8-6-1) || Butler (7-10)
O/U: The over/under opened at 143.
Last Time They Met/Season Series
This will be the 17th matchup between the two programs. Butler currently leads the series 10-6. As of late, the Bulldogs have dominated this matchup including a sweep of DePaul last season in the two games they played.
The last time these two teams met it was a 80-57 Butler win at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Matchup by the Numbers
These are the numbers for each team in terms of KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.
Butler have an AdjOE ranking of 112.3 (32nd in the country) and an AdjDE ranking of 97.6 (74th in the country).
DePaul will march into this one with an AdjOE ranking of 105.9 (126th in the country) and an AdjDE ranking of 99.4 (91st in the country).
3 Things to Watch For
Controlling the glass for DePaul
In their huge win against St. John’s, one of the things DePaul did well was winning the rebounding battle. The Blue Demons had a 43-34 advantage on the boards and were able to control the flow of the game because of it. It was a solid all-around effort from the Blue Demons with three players grabbing eight or more boards. Strus led the way with 12 with Reed (10) and Olujobi (8) pitching in as well.
More production from the Butler starting lineup
In their loss against Xavier only one player in the Butler starting lineup scored double digits. Kamar Baldwin dropped 18 points as the rest of the four starters combined for just 21 points. The Bulldogs got a big spark from their reserves with Paul Jorgensen and Jordan Tucker scoring 14 and 12 respectively off the bench.
Extra help for Max Strus
Like mentioned earlier, DePaul got a big spark from Olujobi and it was a big factor in their win against the Red Storm last weekend. These are the types of performances you like to see from the Blue Demons. It wasn’t a typical performance from Strus and his teammates picked up the slack from him. In a season where DePaul has needed Strus to put in big performances every game in order to win, this was a surprising and nice change. DePaul will be hoping for more production from their role players as the season moves on.