#18 Butler (13-4, 2-3) at #16 Providence (15-3, 3-2)
When: Tuesday, January 19th 2016
Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Time: 6:30 ET | TV: Fox Sports 1
The Butler Bulldogs and Providence Friars will try and keep pace with the rest of the Big East in Tuesday’s key matchup in Providence. Butler came into conference play with an 11-1 record including wins over Purdue and Cincinnati on the road, but have found life tough in the Big East early on. The Bulldogs have lost three of five conference games, but are coming off a 20-point win at home over St. Johns on Saturday. Kelan Martin had 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Red Storm, while Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs with 24 points and is shooting a 46.7% from the floor and an impressive 59.1% from 3-point range over his last four games. In his previous five games, Dunham made just 10-of-60 shots and 2-of-32 from beyond the arc. He missed all five of his 3-point tries when Butler lost to Providence on New Year’s Eve at home 81-73. Butler has lost four of the five meetings with the Friars since they joined the Big East Conference two years ago. Roosevelt Jones ranks second in the conference in steals (1.8) and has 11 in the last four games. Butler will travel to Creighton after this before returning home next Wednesday to face DePaul.
Providence won its first two conference games, but have since dropped two of three including an 81-72 home loss Saturday to Seton Hall. The Friars had an eight game winning streak in which they scored at least 73 points in seven of those games, but have only averaged 62 points in their last three. They have shot only 32.4% during the 1-2 stretch, including a 30.1% showing on Saturday. Leading scorer Ben Bentil (19.2) led Providence with 21 points and nine rebounds against Seton Hall while star guard Kris Dunn had 16 before fouling out with three minutes left. Dunn leads the Big East in assists per game (6.7) but has just five total – against nine turnovers – in the last two games. The Friars’ shooting has been poor all season ranking 216th in FG% (43.4) and 300th in 3-point% (31.2). Providence already has an impressive win on their resume (Arizona) and will play three-straight ranked opponents beginning tonight. They’ll be at first-place Villanova on Saturday and home to Xavier next Tuesday.
Providence seems to have Butler’s number in the last two years. Not only are they 4-1 straight-up, but also 4-1 against the spread. I’ll roll with that trend here tonight.
Pick: Providence -1