Game Notes & Preview: Providence (10-4, 0-1) at (13) Butler (11-2, 0-1) 1/1/17

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, IN

When: 3:00pm EST

How: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz & Doug Gottlieb with Tina Cervasio )/CBS Sports Network Streaming (Where Available)/WEEI 103.7 FM and Friars.com (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • Providence and Butler will meet for the 8th time ever on Sunday. The Friars lead the all-time series, 6-1. Providence went 3-0 against Butler last season, including a 14-point win in the Big East Tournament.
  • Providence is 88-230 in games against ranked opponents, including 71-207 when they are unranked.  They are 1-2 this season against ranked teams with the losses coming against then 7th-ranked Virginia in the championship of the 2016 Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, FL and their last game at Xavier. The win was against then 21st-ranked Rhode Island at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
  • Butler is 12-1 this season. The Bulldogs only loss came in the non-conference against Indiana State on the road. Butler was picked to finish 6th in the preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll. The Bulldogs are led by Chris Holtmann, who is in his 3rd season at the helm of the Butler program. Butler is 33-6 under Holtmann when playing at Hinkle. Junior Kelan Martin  leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 18.4 points/game. Junior Tyler Wideman leads the team in rebounding, averaging 5.4 rebounds/game.
  • Opening Line: Providence +11 at (13) Butler 1/1/17

Game Preview

Providence’s 5-day road trip culminates in Indianapolis on New Year’s Day against the 13th-ranked Butler Bulldogs. The Friars are looking to avoid a 3-game losing streak, something that last occurred in early February last season. Butler is coming off a road loss at St. John’s on Thursday night. The Bulldogs return home to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse looking to notch their first Big East win and defend their home court against Providence. The Friars are 3-0 all-time at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Butler head coach Chris Holtmann characterized his team’s performance against St. John’s on Thursday as “immature.” The Bulldogs allowed St. John’s to shoot 54% from the field, though most of the Red Storm’s offense that night came in isolation. There was a scary incident during their flight home from New York after Thursday night’s game in which the lights went out and the cabin became depressurized forcing the use of oxygen masks and the plane to descend from 35,000 feet to 10,000 feet. They eventually landed in Pittsburgh where they spent the night before returning home to Indianapolis on Friday.

The Bulldogs like to run their offense through the post and most of the time that means the ball ends up in the hands of Portsmouth, RI native Andrew Chrabascz’s hands. He’s adept at finding the open man and isn’t bothered by double teams. Butler’s offense this season is ranked 17th in Adjusted Efficiency, per Kenpom.com. They have an effective FG percentage of 56.5%, also 17th nationally. They have the 9th-best Turnover percentage and make 3-pointers at a 38.5% clip, good for 54th in the country. Providence’s defense has been shaky the last two games on the road and Butler’s offense presents Ed Cooley’s group with a stiff test on that end of the floor.

Butler’s defense isn’t a slouch either, though. Their Adjusted Efficiency on that side of the ball ranks 45th nationally and they turn teams over at a 22.1% clip. That’s the 41st-ranked Turnover percentage. They are the best at preventing assisted field goals at only 38.6% of their opponent’s field goals being assisted. The Division 1 average is 53.3% and Providence averages 61.9%, which ranks 28th nationally.

The probable starters according to the game notes are:

Providence
Butler

The keys to victory for Providence are Cartwright needing to get Bullock going early and often and don’t let Chrabascz have his way with the ball on offense. Butler’s defensive assist rate lends itself perfectly to Cartwright’s game and the best recipient of those assists would be Bullock who has been struggling. Providence won’t win much in the Big East, especially on the road, if Bullock isn’t a factor. Butler runs their offense through the post and mostly uses Chrabascz. If Bullock/Holt/Young can disrupt his facilitating it will slow down Butler’s offense. Jalen Lindsey could get involved in guarding Chrabascz but I suspect he begins the game on Martin.

Prediction: Providence 65 Butler 70

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