Butler takes on Xavier in Madison Square Garden for their first game of the Big East Tournament at 7 ET. This is the third meeting of the season for these two conference rivals. Butler won both of those matchups. Will this game be the same old, same old, for the Bulldogs or will March Madness be in full effect?
Butler is the 2 seed in the Big East Tournament so they had the bye for the first round. Xavier played lowly DePaul and beat them 75-64. A complete Big East Tournament guide can be found here:
Butler has looked strong all season, dodging around the top 25 and winning big games seemingly every week to solidify their strength. Lead by star scorer Kelan Martin (16 PPG), senior big man Andrew Chrabascz (11 PPG), and freshman sensation Kamar Baldwin (10 PPG), the Dawgs have exceeded all expectations for the season to finish 2nd in the Big East.
Xavier started the year out strong but due to injuries and personal changes began to fall off the table. At the end of the regular season they lost six straight to the likes of Marquette (x2) and Providence. In the Big East tournament they must win multiple games to keep their tournament hopes alive. The Musketeers are lead by Trevon Bluiett (16 PPG) and J. P. Macura (14 PPG).
Butler will look to continue to take care of the ball in this one. In both of their previous games against Xavier the Dawgs managed single digit turnovers. They will also have to stop Trevon Bluiett. In their last meeting, Bluiett dropped 21 on 44% shooting.
Xavier will have to be better from long range if they want to continue in the Big East Tournament. In their last two games against Butler, the Musketeers averaged just 33% from deep. They will also have to stop Kamar Baldwin. The freshman guard had 21 and 17 respectively in their last two meetings.
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin seems to have the Musketeers’ number and has had no problem scoring against Xavier this season. In addition to his offense, in their last matchup, Baldwin had five steals. Keep an eye on the freshman to see if he can perform come tournament time.
Nate Fowler has had his role on Butler’s team expanded drastically from the beginning of the season to now. From being way down the bench to starting against Xavier for the teams’ first clash this season, Fowler has definitely become a staple in the Butler lineup. His inside scoring ability as well as size on defense makes him a great asset. Don’t let his size fool you though, he has a great three point shot.
Trevon Bluiett is a skilled guard who can drive and score or shoot it from deep. Stopping Bluiett is essential to Butler continuing on in this tournament and a big game from him could keep them from advancing.
J.P. Macura has taken on a bigger offensive role since the injury to Xavier’s Edmond Sumner earlier this season. Primarily a shooter, Macura can pick apart a defense by spreading the floor and leaving room for his team mates (i.e. Bluiett) to get to the basket. Keep an eye on J.P. as well.
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