Time and Date: Wednesday, January 9 @ 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Prudential Center
Records: Butler (10-5) | Seton Hall (11-4)
Rankings: Butler (#39 KenPom) | Seton Hall (#49 KenPom)
TV Channel: FS1
Stream: FOX Sports GO
Seton Hall and Butler face off Wednesday in a game that could help clear up the fog in the Big East power rankings. Seton Hall had a great start to conference play, beating St. John’s and Xavier, but then fell in a stunner to DePaul. Butler had a pitiful opener against Georgetown, then dominated Creighton. It’s hard to say which team has a better shot of finishing near the top of the conference; Wednesday’s contest could shed some light on this front.
Myles Powell has been nearly unstoppable for Seton Hall this season, but against DePaul he managed just 16 points on 4-13 shooting. He leads the Pirates with an average of 22 points per game while no other Pirate averages double figures. Much of Butler’s success comes from locking down perimeter stars, but Powell has been known to go bananas even against good defense.
Seton Hall will also want to get plenty of touches for Sandro Mamukelashvili. Butler has struggled to defend good post players all year, and Mamukelashvili fits the bill. He started off hot in conference play but registered just five points and three rebounds against DePaul. Coach Willard would love to see him get going again.
Butler is coming off perhaps its best performance of the season. Kamar Baldwin looked like the Big East Player of the Year candidate everybody thought he would be this year and Nate Fowler started sinking threes which gives Butler’s offense a whole new dimension. LaVall Jordan mixed up the starting lineup against Creighton and the whole team seemed to respond with renewed energy and urgency. The Bulldogs will try to ride the momentum to a road victory at the Prudential Center.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Seton Hall: Exploit the interior with Mamukelashvili
Joey Brunk has been taking over more and more minutes for Butler inside. He has played quite well but isn’t an elite interior defender. With limited athleticism, Brunk isn’t much of a rim protector, and is sometimes slow to rotate defensively. Powell may have trouble with Butler’s guards, so Seton Hall’s best option may be Mamukelashvili.
Butler: Frustrate Powell
If Powell gets comfortable, the Dawgs are in trouble. He may be coming into this game with a little frustration and Butler needs to try and keep it that way. Aaron Thompson and Baldwin need to be aggressive defensively and prevent Powell from getting too many open looks. If Powell has another mediocre night, Seton Hall probably won’t have the firepower to make up for it against a tough defensive team in Butler.