Quentin Goodin FR (6-4, 194) vs Kamar Baldwin (6-0, 170)
Baldwin plays bigger than his listed size because of his length and athleticism. He's an excellent defender and a promising scorer that excels in transition. He's averaging 10.0 points per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from 3-point range on 70 attempts. He uses his quickness to get downhill and into the lane after using ball-screens, and he's a consistent but selective spot-up shooter. He was awesome in the first game against Xavier as he led the Bulldogs with 21 points (6-11 FG, 1-2 3PT, 8-8 FTs) and nine rebounds in 30 minutes. He had taken a step back for a four-game stretch recently where he scored in single digits, but he snapped that streak on Wednesday night at Villanova as he hit 7-of-11 shots (1-3 3PT) and finished with 15 points in 29 minutes. Goodin only played three minutes in the game at Hinkle. He hasn't shown much confidence on the offensive end in terms of scoring, but over the last two games, he's had eight assists and two turnovers in each of them. Edmond Sumner gave Butler a lot of trouble last time around. X just needs Goodin to hold his own in this matchup.
Slight Edge Butler
JP Macura JR (6-5, 203) vs Avery Woodson SR (6-2, 190)
Woodson is Butler's top perimeter shooter and he's nailed some big shots recently, including three 3-pointers in the win over Villanova. He's averaging 8.6 points in 20.1 minutes per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from deep. Out of his 195 shot attempts, 145 of them have come from beyond the arc. He was 2-for-10 from the field, all from 3-point range, with six points and two boards in 30 minutes in the first game against Xavier. Macura had one of his best performances in conference play at Hinkle Fieldhouse as he went 6-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-8 from deep, with 16 points and three boards in 35 minutes. He did have seven turnovers in that game, though. He's also coming off another one of his better performances against Big East competition with 22 points (7-17 FG, 3-10 3PT) and five boards in 34 minutes at Seton Hall on Wednesday. He definitely looked more comfortable with Bluiett back in the lineup alongside him.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Malcolm Bernard SR (6-6, 202) vs Kelan Martin JR (6-7, 220)
Martin is a big-bodied bucket-getter that can score at all three levels. He's averaging 15.7 points (41.5% FG, 34% 3PT) and 5.8 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game. He scored 13 points (4-8 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-4 FTs) and grabbed two boards in 20 minutes in the first game against Xavier. He gets his points in a lot of different ways. He's a really good spot-up shooter, but he's also a strong driver coming off of ball-screens or in isolation situations. Plus, he has a great mid-range game. After going through a three-game rough patch, he's been really good the last three games, averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 50 percent (6-12 3PT) from deep over that stretch. Bernard has been struggling with his confidence on offense. He's 0-for-3 from the field combined over the last two games with two points, three rebounds, no assists, and six turnovers. The Musketeers need him to snap out of it and play fearlessly on offense. They can live with him missing shots but they can't have him passing up looks only to turn the ball over.
Moderate Edge Butler
Trevon Bluiett JR (6-6, 198) vs Andrew Chrabascz SR (6-7, 230)
Chrabascz is a unique forward with the strength and willingness to bang down low but the perimeter skill to make plays on offense. He's averaging 11.3 points (45.2% FG, 36.8% 3PT), 4.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 32.5 minutes per game. He's seen his shooting percentages dip over the course of Big East play. Since the last time Butler played XU, he's just 5-of-21 (23.8%) from deep over that 10-game span. He had just three points and two boards last Sunday against DePaul. He played a good floor game in Wednesday's win at Villanova with eight assists, seven rebounds, and three turnovers, but he scored just four points. He also played well in the first game against Xavier as he finished with 16 points (4-8 FG, 8-10 FTs), three rebounds, and two assists in 36 minutes. Bluiett had 14 points (5-12 FG, 2-7 3PT) and three boards in 38 minutes on Wednesday night in his return back from a sprained ankle. He struggled at Hinkle with 10 points on 2-for-10 shooting, including 0-for-4 from deep, to go with four boards and three turnovers before fouling out in 28 minutes of action. The Musketeers need him to have a big game to pull this one off, but he hasn't been great against Butler in his career.
Slight Edge Xavier
Tyrique Jones FR (6-8, 237) vs Tyler Wideman JR (6-8, 240)
Wideman is an undersized but tough below-the-rim center that rebounds and defends pretty well for the Bulldogs. He's averaging 7.6 points (61.9% FG) and 5.3 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game. He's dominated St. John's twice this season but those are his only two Big East games that he's scored in double figures. He was pretty effective in the first game against Xavier as he finished with eight points (3-3 FG), four steals, and seven boards in 25 minutes. Jones had eight points (4-6 FG) and six boards in 14 minutes on Wednesday night at Seton Hall. He only played one minute in the first game against Butler. He's been productive over the last two games as he had 13 points (6-8 FG) and four boards at Marquette and eight points (4-6 FG) and six rebounds at Seton Hall.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Butler Bench
Tyler Lewis is a small distributor that is capable of knocking down some threes. He's averaging 6.9 points (54.5% FG, 45.8% 3PT) and 4.1 assists in 22.4 minutes per game. After starting the season strong, his play has tailed off a bit recently. He hasn't scored in double figures since the loss at Indiana State on December 7. His assists numbers are also way down in conference play. He had five points, all from the free throw line, one assist and one turnover in 15 minutes in the first game against Xavier, but he also had no one he was capable of guarding when Edmond Sumner was on the floor. He may get a little more run this time around. He had eight points (3-7 FG, 2-5 3PT), four assists, two rebounds, and two turnovers in 27 minutes on Wednesday at Villanova. Kethan Savage is another athletic guard that provides some defense and ballhandling for the Bulldogs. He comes off of ball-screens and does a good job of using his body and athleticism to finish or draw contact. He's averaging 7.9 points (44.9% FG, 28.2% 3PT), 2.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 19.1 minutes per game. he came off the bench to play 25 minutes and score 10 points (3-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 4-4 FTs) in the first game against Xavier. Sean McDermott is mostly a spot-up shooter right now on offense, but he has some athleticism too. He's taken 42 of his 53 field goal attempts from 3-point range and is averaging 2.6 points (41.5% FG, 37.5% 3PT) and 1.6 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game. He played six minutes and grabbed a rebound in the first game against X. Nate Fowler is a big body that rebounds well on the offensive end, finishes around the rim, and is capable of stepping out and hitting a 3-pointer. He's 10-for-18 from deep on the year and is averaging 5.4 points (67.9% FG, 55.6% 3PT) and 2.3 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game. He actually got the start in the first game against Xavier, but he only played 12 minutes and finished with four points (1-2 FG, 2-2 FTs) and one board. For Xavier, Sean O'Mara played well in his 11 minutes off the bench in the game at Hinkle, finishing with six points (2-3 FG, 2-4 FTs) and a rebound. Kaiser Gates played 16 minutes in that game and was 1-of-3 from deep with a rebound, a steal, and two turnovers.
Butler is ranked 21st in the country by KenPom.com, 16th in offensive efficiency and 43rd in defensive efficiency. Xavier is ranked 38th overall, 37th in offensive efficiency and 67th in defensive efficiency. The Bulldogs are a terrible offensive rebounding team but they've improved some on the defensive glass. Defensively, they're pretty tough on the perimeter, but lack any rim-protection and are allowing opponents to shoot a high percentage from 2-point range. They typically score plenty of points on offense but they've had some head-scratching defensive performances this year. Xavier couldn't stop fouling and completely melted down in the second half of the first game against Butler. The Musketeers allowed 58 points on 56 percent shooting in that half. They should be tougher defensively on their home floor. It's hard to imagine XU losing a fifth-straight game while playing against Butler in front of a home crowd.
Predicted score: Xavier 74 Butler 71