Time and Date: Saturday, January 30 @ 5:30 pm ET
Records: Butler (5-8, 4-6 BIG EAST) | Xavier (10-2, 3-2 BIG EAST)
Rankings: Butler (#86 KenPom) | Xavier (#51 KenPom)
TV Channel: FS1
Watch Online: FOX Sports GO
The Xavier Musketeers return to action Saturday after missing nearly three weeks of play due to COVID-related issues. They face the Butler Bulldogs, who nearly had a COVID problem of their own this week as a referee from their previous game tested positive. The Xavier-Butler matchup was postponed from Friday until Saturday so the Bulldogs could get their test results back and ensure there were no positives.
It’s hard to know what to expect from either team in this one. Xavier was riding a hot streak, having beaten St. John’s and Providence back-to-back before the shutdown. Butler was playing well enough to beat Creighton a couple weeks ago, but missed a game due to a false positive, then got pummeled by UConn. Add to that the fact that this game’s original scheduling was changed and you’ve got a recipe for unpredictability.
Xavier was led in its most recent win by sophomore Zach Freemantle who is emerging as a star for the Musketeers. He is averaging 15.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and could be a tough matchup for the Bulldogs. Butler will also have to contend with Paul Scruggs who hasn’t been as good this year as some expected, but is still very capable – he scored 29 points against Marquette earlier this season.
The Bulldogs are coming off a miserable offensive performance against UConn (apparently the norm for Butler-UConn meetings) but they’re hoping the one bright spot is a sign of things to come; Bryce Golden came into the game with only one made three-pointer on the year and somehow torched the nets going 5/7 from beyond the arc. If he can pose a threat from deep, it could really open things up for an offense that has struggled all year.
Meetings between these two teams have often proved chippy, but it’s likely this one will be more peaceable as both programs should just be happy to get a game in – no guarantees on that.