Marquette Golden Eagles (12-5, 3-2 Big East) at #12 Butler Bulldogs (15-3, 4-2 Big East)
Marquette Stat Leaders
Points: Jajuan Johnson, 12.9 ppg
Rebounds: Luke Fischer, 6.0 rpg
Assists: Haanif Cheatham, 3.4 apg
Butler Stat Leaders
Points: Kelan Martin, 16.6 ppg
Rebounds: Kelan Martin & Tyler Wideman, 5.3 rpg
Assists: Tyler Lewis, 4.1 apg
Current KenPom Rankings
KenPom Projection: Butler has a 77% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 82-73.
Tempo Free Fun: Marquette’s in a lot of trouble when Butler has the ball. The Bulldogs have KenPom’s 18th most efficient offense, and Marquette is 1-4 when playing a top 50 offense this season. Butler is top 30 in effective field goal percentage and 10th in the country in turnover rate. That second one there is potentially the biggest problem for the Golden Eagles. MU has been a mediocre to bad defense across the Four Factors this season, except for one thing: They’re top 70 in turnover rate. While forcing turnovers on 21% of possessions has been a lifesaver at times, being good at that isn’t going to help a lot when faced with a team that’s even better at holding on to the ball.
The good news for defending Butler comes on the rebounding end of things. The Bulldogs rank #229 in the country in offensive rebounding rate, which means Marquette should be able to avoid the rebounding problems that plagued them against Seton Hall. There are two, maybe three slight caveats to that, however. While they’re not a good OR team, Tyler Wideman is one of the 150 best offensive rebounders in the country, and Andrew Chrabascz isn’t bad, either. I said “maybe” because Nate Fowler has an OR% better than Wideman, but because he’s only played 30% of Butler’s minutes this season, he doesn’t land on the national rankings. He’s actually got a better rate than Angel Delgado, if you can believe that. BU head coach Chris Holtmann gave Fowler the start over Wideman on Saturday against Xavier, but Fowler played just 12 minutes while Wideman got 25 minutes of run.
Marquette’s offense vs Butler’s defense will be a battle of strength vs strength on multiple levels. MU has KenPom’s #17 offense, BU’s defense is #32. Marquette is the third best three point shooting team in the country, Butler has the 15th best three point defense in the country. Marquette doesn’t turn it over much, ranking #68 in the country in turnover rate at 17%, while Butler ranks #51 in forcing turnovers at 21%.
That’s about where the clash ends, really. Butler’s a lousy two point defense team, allowing teams to shoot 51% inside the arc, ranking #238 in the country. MU ranks 40th in the country on twos, and they have eight players shooting 45% or better on two point shots. Five of them are shooting better than 50%. Marquette’s strength is clearly shooting threes as was vociferously proven against DePaul on Saturday, but between Butler’s ability to shut those long range shots down and their inability to stop things inside, we might see a focus on trying to take it to the rim as much as possible.
There’s a second upside to taking it to the rim against the Bulldogs. They’re a horrible defensive free throw rate team, ranking #223 in the country. No one on their roster ranks in the top 500 in the country in terms of fewest fouls called per 40 minutes. Andrew Chrabascz and Kelan Martin are their two best guys at not fouling, but they average three fouls per 40. “Take it to the rack and draw contact” might be the simplest game plan in recorded history, but it’s one that might be very effective against the Bulldogs. Remember: Marquette’s also the third best free throw shooting team in the country.
One last thing to mention: Marquette’s horrible three point shooting defense. Opponents are connecting on 38% of their treys, ranking MU #299 in the country. THAT’S REALLY BAD. Butler doesn’t have a tendency to shoot a lot of threes, ranking #144 in the percentage of their total shots that come from behind the arc. They do, however, have guys who can fill it up from out there. Kelan Martin (35%) and Avery Woodson (40%) are their two most likely shooters, but Andrew Chrabascz (44%), Kamar Baldwin (46%), and Tyler Lewis (40%) are all averaging about two attempts per game. They might not shoot the three a lot as a team, but their ability to hit it has to be respected and defended, which is something that Marquette is struggling to do.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3, and on a two game winning streak.
Butler Last 10 Games: 7-3 with wins in four of their last five.
All Time Series: Butler has a slight edge, 18-17.
Current Streak: Butler has won three of the last four against Marquette, including last year’s regular season finale.
Jajuan Johnson Watch: The senior from Memphis is four steals away from tying Kerry Trotter for the 10th most steals by a senior at 47.
Luke Fischer Watch: Fischer currently ranks 6th on Marquette’s career blocks chart with 118. His next swat will tie him with Michael Wilson for 5th place. He’s really going to have to pick up the pace to get to Chris Otule in 4th place at 135, though.
Markus Howard Watch: With 38 made three pointers on the season, Howard has the 9th most by a freshman in Marquette history and needs just three more to tie Dominic James for 8th. He still needs another 30 or so attempts on top of his current total of 65 to crack the top 10 there.
Sam Hauser Watch: With 35 made threes, Hauser has the 10th most long balls by a freshman, and yes, that includes Howard in front of him. The kid from Stevens Point is a little closer to the attempts top 10 than his Arizona counterpart with 77.
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@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@ButlerMBB - Official Butler account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that's us!
@ButlerWay - Our favorite Butler site's account
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat reporter