Time and Date: Saturday, January 2 @ 4:30 pm ET
Records: Butler (2-4) | Seton Hall (7-4)
Rankings: Butler (#83 KenPom) | Seton Hall (#38 KenPom)
TV Channel: FS1
Watch Online: FOX Sports GO
Spread: Seton Hall (-9.0)
Saturday, the Seton Hall Pirates and the Butler Bulldogs clash for the first time this season. The two teams come into this one trending in opposite directions; Butler was blown out by Providence in its most recent game, while Seton Hall earned a dominating win over Xavier.
After a rocky start to the season, the Pirates have settled in and are looking like one of the better teams in the BIG EAST. They’ve won six of their last seven, the only loss coming on an overtime buzzer beater. At 4-1 in conference play, they rank second behind undefeated Villanova.
Butler took a step back losing to Providence as they had previously beaten Providence in Indianapolis. The Bulldogs continue to struggle with consistency as injured Aaron Thompson watches from the bench. There is no word yet on whether or not he’ll play against the Pirates, but he is expected back sometime in January.
While Seton Hall is a heavy favorite, recent history suggests this one could be closer than advertised. Four of the last seven meetings between these two teams have been decided by three points or fewer.
The Pirates will look to exploit the Bulldogs down low, where Bryce Golden and Bryce Nze have really struggled. Seton Hall outrebounded Xavier 42-28 on Wednesday with Sandro Mamukelashvili leading the way. Mamukelashvili also played well against this same Butler frontcourt last year, scoring 15 points in a Seton Hall win on February 19.
Another area where the PIrates could have an advantage is at the free throw stripe. They shot a perfect 14/14 from the line against Xavier and are shooting 73.4% as a team. Butler, on the other hand, has given away points at the line all season, shooting just 61.6%.
Unless Thompson returns for this one, it will be an uphill battle for the Bulldogs. Even with Thompson, Mamukelashvili and the Seton Hall frontcourt may be more than the Dawgs can handle.