Game 21: No. 16 Butler Bulldogs (12-4, 4-3) at Georgetown Hoyas (12-8, 2-5)
When: Tuesday 9 PM
Where: Capital One Arena
Series: Hoyas lead 8-6
Last Meeting: Butler won 73-69 on Feb. 9, 2019 at Capital One Arena
TV: CBSSN (Andrew Catalon & Steve Lappas)
Radio: The Team 980 (Rich Chvotkin)
KenPom Rankings: Butler 15, Georgetown 50
KenPom Score Prediction: Butler 72, Georgetown 71 (55 percent)
NET Rankings: Butler 9, Georgetown 53
Line: Georgetown -1, 0/u 141.5
Fresh from a week off, Georgetown hosts No. 16 Butler tonight in an attempt to earn what would be their best win of the season while at the same time avoiding a season-long three-game losing streak.
So, to put it lightly, this series hasn’t exactly been kind to the home team.
The Bulldogs have won four straight games at Capital One Arena while inflicting a different level of pain on Georgetown fans with each narrow victory. Last year’s Butler victory was the only game that didn’t go to overtime in this current streak. Two years ago, in Patrick Ewing’s first conference game as coach, Butler stormed back from down 18 at the half to win in overtime behind 31 from Kamar Baldwin.
Speaking of Baldwin, the BIG EAST’s third leading scorer was named league player of the week on Monday after scoring 29 of his 31 points after the first half in a comeback win over Marquette. It was a much-needed win for the Bulldogs who stopped a three-game losing streak. Just two weeks ago Butler had reached No. 5 in the AP Poll with their only loss at the time being 53-53 defeat in Waco to now-No. 1 Baylor.
Considering the obnoxiously late start time, avoiding another overtime riddled game would be best for everyone.
Butler will be shorthanded against Georgetown, but there won’t be any sympathy from the Hoyas who have been down to seven regulars for the last six weeks.
The Bulldogs are without starting point guard Aaron Thompson and key reserve Christian David. Senior Henry Baddley picked up the slack in Thompson’s absence by scoring a season-high 10 points in a season-high 31 minutes.
For Georgetown, the script is the same. Ewing needs both Omer Yurtseven and Mac McClung to produce. McClung managed 19 points on 19 shots in their loss to Xavier a week ago while Yurtseven never got going due to foul trouble. The Hoyas were doomed inside, giving up 20 points after 16 offensive rebounds. Could this be the game we see more of Yurtseven alongside Qudus Wahab?
This will be a contrast in styles as Georgetown likes to play fast while Butler is among the nation’s slowest teams in pace of play. Recent games have been high scoring so Georgetown’s style of play has won over in this even series.
OLD FAMILY RIVALS
Ewing will coach against the son of longtime rival Rik Smits tonight for the first time. Derrik Smits is a grad-transfer from Valparaiso who averages 4 points and 2 rebounds in in 11 minutes a game off the Butler bench.
Ewing and the elder Smits battled in the NBA playoffs in the 90’s in those classic Knicks- Pacers series.
Does Rik travel to watch his 7-1 son in his final year of college basketball? We’ll find out tonight.
RECENT RANKED SUCCESS
After starting his career with seven straight losses to ranked opponents, Ewing is 4-2 in his last six. Ewing’s highest ranked win came last season at then-No. 16 Marquette which he could match tonight against Butler.
Prediction: Georgetown 82, No. 16 Butler 77 – The week off will do the Hoyas right in pulling off their biggest upset of the season.