Time and Date: Friday, January 10 @ 9:00 pm ET
Records: Butler (14-1) | Providence (10-6)
Rankings: Butler (#4 NET) | Providence (#81 NET)
TV Channel: FS1
Watch Online: FOX Sports GO
ODDS & ENDS via OddsShark
Favorite: Butler (-2.5)
All eyes in college basketball will be on Butler and Providence Friday night as they face off during prime television time; Ball State vs. Akron is the only other game occurring at that time. But the Bulldogs-Friars match-up doesn’t need to be the only game in town to draw interest. There are a lot of intriguing elements to this one.
Both teams are undefeated in the Big East so far — Seton Hall is the only other team with that distinction — and yet the season has been very different for the two squads.
Butler has been terrific all season long, pummeling most opponents, leading the nation in quality wins, and bursting into the top ten of every major ranking system. Providence, meanwhile, had a disastrous non-conference slate, losing at one point to Penn, Long Beach St., and Charleston in succession. Butler’s 2-0 conference record was expected. Providence’s 3-0 record is a shock. Have the Friars figured it out? Are they a legitimate competitor in the conference? Are the Bulldogs truly the immovable object they’ve appeared to be thus far?
Another wrinkle to this one is the difficulty Butler has had with Providence historically. As the Bulldogs were finishing up a disappointing season last year, the Friars beat them on February 26, then again on March 9, and finally, added insult to injury by eliminating Butler from the Big East Tournament on March 13. The Bulldogs may have been dealing with nightmares leading up to this contest.
Speaking of nightmares, the worst thing that could have happened for Providence was Kamar Baldwin breaking out of his slump in the second half of Butler’s most recent game. After a dismal first half that followed a multi-game stretch of struggles, Baldwin got red hot, scoring 20 points in the second half alone. If that momentum carries over into the Dunk Friday, the Bulldogs may have their revenge in Rhode Island.
You’ll want to tune into this one. Almost assuredly, it won’t be pretty; but it will be exciting and will reveal a lot about the state of the Big East in 2020.