How to watch Butler vs. Providence:
Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Watch Online: foxsports.com
Spread: Providence -8.5
Moneyline: Butler +350 | Providence -435
Sunday afternoon features a battle of two Big East teams coming off of a loss. It also features two teams trending in very different directions.
“It was just a good old-fashioned butt-kicking,” said Butler head coach LaVall Jordan after their 91-57 loss at St. John’s Friday afternoon. It was Butler’s fourth loss by 20 points or more this season.
The Butler Bulldogs (13-14, 6-10) were hoping to build after consecutive wins against Marquette and DePaul. Instead, they fell flat on their face. The Johnnies shot 61 percent from the field, including 11-22 from deep. They had 23 assists on 35 makes. Butler’s defense provided little resistance.
With the loss, the Bulldogs will finish .500 or worse in conference play for the fourth time in five seasons under LaVall Jordan.
Butler returned four double-figure scorers this season. All four have seen their scoring averages drop. That includes Chuck Harris, whose sophomore season has not gone as planned after a strong freshman campaign. Myles Tate, his classmate who showed flashes last season, tore his ACL in last year’s Big East tournament and has played in just six games this season.
Thankfully for Butler fans, a pair of freshmen has once again stepped onto the scene. Jayden Taylor is one of the team’s leading scorers, and the Bulldogs have a winning record in the 13 games the freshman has with at least ten points. Simas Lukosius, a Lithuanian recruit who signed with the Bulldogs in August, has added a shooting touch to a team not afraid to fire away from deep. He hit the game-winner at DePaul earlier this week.
When I say Butler likes to shoot the three, I mean it. Nearly 43 percent of their shots come from beyond the arc, the highest mark since Jordan began coaching the team. They’re hitting those shots at less than a 31 percent clip, the worst rate in the same time span. Unless those shots are falling for them like they did in the upset over Marquette last Saturday, Butler has struggled score.
Butler’s opponent this Sunday, the #8 Providence Friars (21-3, 11-2), fell victim to a shooting onslaught their last time out. The #10 Villanova Wildcats racked up 11 made threes Tuesday night, including a late dagger from Collin Gillespie, en route to an 89-84 victory. It was the most points Providence has allowed all season.
While Butler’s season has been disappointing, the Friars find themselves sitting at eighth in the country after being picked to finish seventh in the Big East. Their head coach, Ed Cooley, was named to the national coach of the year watch list this week. Despite the loss to Villanova, Providence is at the top of the Big East with less than three weeks until the conference kicks off its tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Entering Tuesday night, the Friars had won eight straight for the second time this season. One of those wins came over Butler at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Bulldogs led 43-42 in the second half before Ed Cooley turned to his front court. Nate Watson and Ed Croswell combined for 15 of Providence’s 21 points in the final ten minutes of the game as Providence finished a 69-62 victory. It was their second game back from their COVID pause, and the Friars were missing A.J. Reeves with a finger injury. Reeves has since returned to action, playing his best game since coming back with 16 points against Villanova.
Having already lost once this week, a slip-up at Hinkle Fieldhouse could cause the Friars to tumble in the polls. As Ed Cooley said Tuesday night, this is “an opportunity to show some resilience.” Through illness, injury, and adversity, Cooley has seen that resilience from his team all season. He’ll be counting on it again on Sunday.