On Wednesday night, the Butler Bulldogs will play host to the Creighton Bluejays in Hinkle for their first matchup of the year.
Butler comes in having lost each of their last four games and six of their last seven. Their lone win in that span came against Georgetown out in Washington DC. Meanwhile, Creighton has posted a record of 4-2 in their last six but has had three games (at DePaul, vs. Georgetown, vs. Providence) postponed since the start of conference play. Butler will look to catch the Bluejays out of rhythm in Hinkle.
How to watch Creighton at Butler
Time: 6:30pm ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports App
(via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Spread: Creighton -2.5 | Butler +2.5
Moneyline: Creighton -155 | Butler +135
The Creighton Bluejays (12-5, 4-2) have been streaky, to say the least. A 20-point victory against Villanova in Omaha, a double-OT win against Marquette (their last loss) in Milwaukee; both notable wins. Then, two losses came against Villanova (41-75) in Philadelphia and Xavier (73-80) in Cincinnati. Then, furthering my point, Creighton demolished St. John’s by 23 and came back from 11-down to defeat DePaul by 13, both affairs at home.
Creighton has been struggling to find an offensive rhythm as well, and with an average 16 turnovers per game in conference play, the Bluejays need to keep their composure going into an arena they have been inconsistent in (2-6 since joining the Big East in Hinkle).
The Butler Bulldogs (9-10, 2-6) have been subpar, but part of that is their SOS. A top-20 strength of schedule for the Bulldogs has led to losses against Michigan State, Houston, Texas A&M, Purdue, Seton Hall, Xavier, Villanova, Connecticut x2, and Providence. 10 of their 19 games have been against teams with real tournament aspirations, and only one (at Oklahoma) has been a win. Still, you look back at all the times Creighton has walked into Hinkle, and Butler has had their number: Butler is winning games against the Bluejays by 7.25 points on average in Hinkle. Most of the most recent games have not been close, either: of the last four games in Hinkle against Creighton, Butler is winning by an average of 14 points, with no losses.
But this could be the first time since 2017 that Creighton walks out of Hinkle with a win. Led by Ryan Hawkins and Alex O’Connell, Creighton has more than just those weapons at their disposal. Ryan Kalkbrenner has been the anchor for Creighton down low, blocking 3.1 shots per game, rebounding 7.2 misses per game, and scoring 12.2 PPG on 69.4% shooting from the field. Ryan Nembhard has been taking the starting PG duties, with 11.7 PPG and 4.4 APG, though he has been in a slump recently (9.0 PPG and 3.8 APG with 6.3% three-point shooting in his last four games). Arthur Kaluma, with a 20-point game recently, and Trey Alexander, with two consecutive solid games (11.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.0 APG in his last two), will also try to lead Creighton to a victory.
Butler, the team trying to make it five straight at home against Creighton, is led by Chuck Harris with 10.8 PPG usually off the bench, and then four players within 3 PPG of Harris. Bryce Golden (9.3 PPG) is shooting 56.3% from the field, Jayden Taylor (9.2 PPG) leads the team in FTA at 3.6 per game, Jair Bolden (8.6 PPG) put up 23 in Butler’s last win but missed the Providence game, and Bryce Nze (8.1 PPG) is the leading rebounder for the Bulldogs at 5.7 RPG. Additionally, who could forget Aaron Thompson, the super senior and starting PG from Glenn Dale, Maryland? He adds 7.4 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.5 SPG to the Bulldogs' tough defense.
For Creighton to win…
…the Bluejays need to prevent turnovers. 16 TPG in conference play will burn you, and with a defense like Butler who is only allowing a top-100 65.1 PPG, it is imperative that you do not give up offensive possessions in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Creighton has one of the best effective field goal percentages in the conference but coughs the ball up too much for that to be a major factor. The Jays need to calm it down offensively if they want to win in Hinkle for the first time in five years.
For Butler to win…
…the Bulldogs need to shut down Ryan Kalkbrenner. Not even necessarily from a scoring aspect, but shut him down from offensively rebounding the ball, prevent him from blocking drives to the basket, et cetera. Look at the Creighton at Villanova game, for example. Kalkbrenner had four points, no offensive rebounds, and one block; a 34-point loss. If you can maximize your possessions without getting blocked, and eliminate extra chances for Creighton off of offensive rebounds, you have a solid chance to win your third Big East game.