Time and Date: Wednesday, December 23 @ 6:00 pm ET
Records: Butler (1-3) | Providence (5-2)
Rankings: Butler (#73 KenPom) | Providence (#62 KenPom)
TV Channel: CBS Sports Network
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
After a thrilling overtime victory over Seton Hall, the Providence Friars travel to Indianapolis to face Butler; their win over the Pirates was their first game in eleven days due to COVID-related postponements. Their return to play has gone better than Butler’s; the Bulldogs have lost three games in a row since returning from COVID shutdown.
A.J. Reeves sunk the buzzer-beater against Seton Hall, but it was Nate Watson who carried the freight for Ed Cooley’s squad, scoring 23 points and pulling down 11 boards. The senior big man has scored at least 17 in every game this year and is shooting 62.7% from the field. Watson will be a challenge for Bryce Golden and the Bulldogs who have struggled mightily with Providence’s post play in general over the last couple seasons.
The Friars are 4-1 in the teams’ last five meetings, most recently beating the Dawgs 65-61 on February 1. The two teams were slated to play each other in the BIG EAST conference tournament before the event was suspended.
Providence was picked to finish third in the BIG EAST preseason coaches’ poll and could be a sleeper to win the league. Butler, meanwhile, was picked to finish eighth and its stock has only fallen since then. The Bulldogs could desperately use a win. Once again, it won’t be known until game day whether or not Aaron Thompson will play for the Dawgs.
Despite the early struggles, the Bulldogs seem anything but demoralized. The team seems to collectively understand that they are in the midst of a rebuilding year and with several freshmen getting big minutes for Dawgs, energy and enthusiasm are never in short supply. That being said, the confident, hungry Friars will likely be more than Butler can handle unless Thompson suits up.