Time and Date: Sunday, February 9 @ 12:00 pm ET
Records: Butler (18-5) | Marquette(16-6)
Rankings: Butler (#11 NET) | Marquette (#23 NET)
TV Channel: FS1
Watch Online: FOX Sports GO
Marquette hosts Butler Sunday in the second and final match-up of the regular season between the two teams. In Indianapolis on January 24, the Bulldogs squeaked past the Golden Eagles in overtime after Kamar Baldwin went bananas down the stretch. However, there are two elements of this re-match that will make it very different from the previous meeting.
First, the game will be played at Marquette. In Big East play, Steve Wojciechowski’s squad is 4-1 at the Fiserv Forum, compared to 2-3 elsewhere. The Golden Eagles are 3-3 when hosting Butler since the re-alignment of the conference.
The other wrinkle in this one is that Butler will likely have Aaron Thompson available. Thompson missed the last meeting with Marquette as part of a three-game injury stint. He played in the Bulldogs’ most recent game and although he appeared to still be in considerable pain, the indications are that he will play again Sunday.
Thompson will be instrumental in defending Markus Howard, who is always liable to catch fire. Howard is in the midst of an extended cold streak, making just 14 of his last 50 three-point attempts. Lately, he’s been doing a lot of his damage from the free throw line. Thompson and company will need to keep him from getting a rhythm deep and keep him off the stripe.
For Marquette, the formula is simple and the same one they’ve employed against Butler for years: Push the pace. The Golden Eagles were able to make Butler uncomfortable last time and force them into a high-scoring game. The Bulldogs still prevailed thanks to a Herculean effort from Baldwin, but that’s exactly what Marquette needs to do to give themselves a chance. Here again Thompson plays an important role, as it is much harder to get the Bulldogs out of sorts with Thompson at the helm.
This is a great opportunity for both teams to build their resumes and vault into the upper echelon of the conference. Both are 6-4 in the Big East, part of a four-way tie that follows Seton Hall and Villanova and would love to distance themselves from the middle of the pack.