It may have been against the Depaul Blue Doormats, but a blowout of that proportion certainly felt good. The 25-point margin of victory was the largest in BE play during the Wojo era. In fact, it was the largest margin of victory in a Big East game in almost 6 years. Marquette blew out none other than Depaul by 30 on January 18th, 2011. The dominating victory gives Marquette some much needed momentum going into the most difficult stretch of the season. The next three games represent three of the five toughest wins on Marquette’s schedule. Stealing any of them would go a long way towards Marquette’s tournament chances. The best chance of those for a Marquette win? This first one on the road at Butler.
1: Tyler Lewis: 5-11 170 lb RSSR PG: 23.5 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.2 tpg, .534 FG%, .795 FT%, .419 3P%
2: Kamar Baldwin: 6-0 170 lb FR SG: 23.3 mpg, 8.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .513 FG%, .824 FT%, .452 3P%
3: Kelan Martin: 6-7 220 lb JR PF: 30.5 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.5 tpg, .405 FG%, .838 FT%, .353 3P%
4: Andrew Chrabascz: 6-7 230 lb SR PF: 32.2 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .468 FG%, .734 FT%, .457 3P%
5: Tyler Wideman: 6-8 240 lb JR PF: 22.4 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.2 tpg, .659 FG%, .620 FT%, .000 3P%
Avery Woodson: 6-2 190 lb RSSR SG: 20.1 minutes per game
Sean McDermott: 6-6 190 lb RSFR SG: 15.8 minutes per game
Kethan Savage: 6-3 205 lb RSSR SG: 15.5 minutes per game
Nate Fowler: 6-10 240 lb SO C: 12.2 minutes per game
Henry Baddley: 6-4 175 lb FR SF
Joey Brunk: 6-11 240 lb FR C
Steven Bennett: 6-3 190 lb SR SG
Trey Pettus: 6-4 200 lb SR SG
Paul Jorgensen 6-2 195 lb JR PG (Redshirtting)
• Butler rarely ever beats themselves. They have committed the fewest turnovers of any Big East squad. But they can make other teams beat themselves, forcing opponents into over 14 turnovers a game.
• Monday’s battle will be one of conflicting strengths as Marquette’s hot outside shooting goes against Butler’s lockdown 3 point defense. They have only allowed opponents to make 30% of their threes which is top 20 in the nation.
• While they have great size at the three and four, Butler lacks a traditional interior presence. As a result, they rank last in the conference in rebounds per game and second to last in blocks per game.
• Going into the season, Butler’s biggest question mark was their starting PG. Tyler Lewis was less than impressive last season, shooting an abysmal 38% from the floor and 29% from deep. He has come a long way, shooting over 50% total and 40% from long range. He is a great floor general and leads the Big East in assist to turnover ratio. He is still not a great scorer but his game management ability helps the Bulldogs run smoothly and efficiently.
• One of the biggest surprises in the Big East has been the emergence of Kamar Baldwin. The Atlanta product was a three star coming in but has been one of the top freshman performers in the conference. He is a nightmare on the defensive end, averaging 1.9 steals per contest. That is good for 2nd best in the conference, behind only Marquette’s own Jajuan Johnson.
• Preseason, Paint Touches picked Kelan Martin as the 3rd best player in the conference. His ability to score inside, outside, and from the mid-range made him one of the elite scorers not just in the Big East, but in the whole country. Since Big East play began, Martin has struggled on the offensive end. He is averaging a good but not great 12.2 points a game on an awful 32% shooting, including 23% from beyond the arc. Despite Martin’s sub-par performance, the Bulldogs find themselves in good position at 4-2 with wins over Villanova and Xavier.
• You won’t find his name at the top of many statistical leaderboards, but Andrew Chrabascz is quietly the best player on the Bulldogs. He is second on the team in several key categories including points, rebounds, assists, and steals. He is one of those fundamentally sound, high basketball IQ type players that just knows how to make winning plays. Shutting him down might be the key to beating Butler. In their two conference losses combined, Chrabascz struggled to 6 points on 3/14 shooting and was 0/4 from deep.
• While not as slow as the likes of Nova, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Butler is one of the slower teams in the nation with an adjusted tempo that ranks 273rd in division 1.
Monday morning’s matchup will be a battle of wills. Butler and Marquette bring in a set of strengths that are in direct opposition of each other. No team in the Big East is better than Marquette at stealing the ball and forcing turnovers. No team is better than Butler at controlling the ball and avoiding those turnovers. Jajuan Johnson will not find as many lazy passes as he is used to with redshirt senior Lewis running the point. He must be patient and pick his steal opportunities very carefully. If he jumps too much, Butler’s disciplined offense will make him pay. The other point of direct conflict comes at the three-point line. After the three-point bombardment of Depaul, Marquette now ranks first in the conference at 3PM per game and 3P%. Butler’s 3P defense is one of the best in the conference. Marquette might have the advantage in this one as they have already faced a better three-point defense in Villanova. Marquette lost big that game but they shot a very healthy 45.2% from deep in that game. With Butler’s lack of size, establishing Fischer in the post is key to helping the shooters get open. Marquette matches up well with the Bulldogs at the 1, 2, and 5 positions. Butler features small guards just like Marquette and an undersized center. The troublesome matchups are at the 3 and 4. Martin has a ton of size and strength and will be a load for any wing on Marquette’s roster to handle. Chrabascz is a heady player and will be hard for a freshman like Hauser to contain. Hauser has been particularly foul prone during Big East play and Chrabascz is likely to exploit that. Marquette’s best options might be for Haanif Cheatham, their best on ball defender, to try and slow down Martin and for Katin Reinhardt to take on Chrabascz. Reinhardt has been on fire the last four games, making 14 three pointers in that stretch. If Marquette is going to win, the matchup against Chrabascz will be the key. Normally, I would have predicted a loss on the road against such a well-coached team. However, the fact that Marquette got to rest their starters for the second half of the Depaul game whereas Butler is coming off a physical slugfest with Xavier, both on short notice, I think Marquette shocks the Bulldogs with a surprise road victory.