Game 17: Georgetown Hoyas (11-5, 3-2) vs Butler Bulldogs (13-5, 3-2)
Series: Hoyas lead 3-1
Where/When: Verizon Center, Saturday 5 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
I'm really glad we got all of the cute stuff out of the way early because this matchup will not provide a lot in the area of aesthetics. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, please check this out.
Ok so here's the deal, both Georgetown and Butler are part of the five team logjam sitting a game behind everybody's preseason favorite Villanova. Of those five teams Butler probably has what I might call an invisible tiebreaker since they are picking up road wins against - at least at the time of the game - ranked opposition.
As we all know Butler already defeated our Hoyas earlier this season in the Battle 4 Atlantis Third Place game in which the Bulldogs got off to a good start and never let the Hoyas regain the lead. The game was awful to watch and basically ruined Black Friday for Georgetown fans everywhere.
My takeaways from that game were poor free throws (Smith and Bowen combined to go 2-of-9), DSR being exhausted after almost carrying the Hoyas over the finish line against Wisconsin the previous day, and the coming out party for Isaac Copeland. It was also a game where the winner would wind up ranked and the loser stuck in purgatory; I mean the ORV section of your favorite newspaper or website.
So what do we know about the Bulldogs? Well, they are better than most everybody predicted. Last year life was hard for Butler in the BIG EAST as they managed just a 4-14 record in the league.
This year they have Roosevelt Jones back on the court to go along with a new head coach Chris Holtmann on the sidelines and the results have been very good.
Already Butler is 5-4 against the RPI Top 50. This immediate bounce back is good for the league and has quieted the people who worried that Butler was just in the BIG EAST because of Brad Stevens. We want Butler to be good, just not on Saturday.
Bulldogs lowdown: It's hard to find a guy that works harder to get his shot off than Kellen Dunham. If you get the chance just watch him work off the ball a bit on Saturday. It will be really important for Jabril Trawick to stay out of foul trouble against Dunham (16.8 ppg).
Jones is another guy that will give the Hoyas fits. He's second on the team with 12.8 ppg but he leads the team in assists (3.9) and grabs about six boards each outing.
Personally I like Andrew Chrabascz's game as a big man. He can put it on the floor and get the other team's front court in foul trouble. He accomplished this in the first meeting, particularly with Mikael Hopkins. Last season he averaged 19 points in Butler's two losses to the Hoyas.
Oh and if you don't run out quick enough in closing out on Alex Barlow, he will most certainly hit an annoying 3-pointer or three.
Last time out: Butler picked up its second conference road win on Tuesday when they defeated No. 21 Seton Hall in overtime. As you would expect the Bulldogs were led by Jones and Dunham.
RPI: Right now the Bulldogs show up at 14th in the most recent RPI listings. That's good.
Now on to your Hoyas.
When was the last time Georgetown played a conference team in the non-conference part of the regular season schedule? I honestly can't remember it In all my days of following the program. All I can remember is post season matchups in the 2003 NIT against Providence (second round) and St. John's (Final). The 1987 Elite 8 loss to the Friars was just before my time.
I don't think it's ever happened since the formation of the BIG EAST. I guess it's just another joy of football imposed conference realignment that we get to see Butler at least three times this season.
The way I'm looking at the first meeting this season is that it took a scheduling irregularity for Butler to finally beat the Hoyas in men's basketball.
Easy Buckets: For a team that struggles in the halfcourt - especially against ZONE - it's imperative to get easy looks. Often those looks come in transition. When these teams met last time, Georgetown failed to get any real run outs and ended scoring ZERO fastbreak points - Butler ended up with nine in a six point win. So, yeah, that needs to improve and you think it would at home.
From what I remember, Butler played a decent amount of man-to-man defense but the Hoyas struggled to convert layups. Bowen - one of the best cutters on the team - missed two back door layups that I don't expect to see again.
Rebounding: In probably their biggest win of the season so far against UNC, Butler won the battle on the boards 48-35 and picked up 22 offensive boards which allowed the Bulldogs to attempt 15 more shots than the Tarheels. In the first meeting Georgetown did a good job against the BIG EAST's top rebounding team, holding a 37-28 final advantage. It's something that they will have to do again
Frosh: In the win over DePaul on Tuesday, Isaac Copeland had perhaps an unexpected eight points. Copeland, who shined for the Hoyas in their first matchup with Butler way back in November, had only scored four total points in the previous five games combined.
What seems to be clear is that at least one of Paul White, Tre Campbell, and Copeland will make a big mark in every game. What isn't nearly as clear is trying to figure out which one. White is usually the best bet since he sees the most consistent minutes but even that went out the window in his return home to Chicago earlier this week.
Hopefully we will continue to see an increase in minutes for Campbell and Copeland as the season progresses. Both have shown the ability to come off the bench and make jumpers.
Reason to be cynical: Butler is basically playing with house money on this two game roadtrip having already picked up an unexpected win at Seton Hall the other day. They will really Butler this game up for 40 minutes making things difficult for the hosts.
Reason to be delusional: It's the GRAY OUT game and you can buy one of those shirts with three Jacks howling at the moon. What could go wrong? Well, nothing besides the lack of breakfast sandwiches at the pre game media meal for this unusual late Saturday afternoon tip at the Verizon Center.
Final Thoughts: These two home games against Butler and No. 5 Villanova will likely go a long way towards shaping fans expectations of the team going forward. Defend the home court and the sky is the limit. Drop one or *gasp* both and the sky will be falling. I'd do well to remember this when live tweeting.
I'll see everybody on the other side with my post game thoughts from press row.