Day Two of the Battle for Atlantis Tournament has already begun, but that doesn’t mean that the Butler Bulldogs have tipped off yet. Instead, after losing to Tennessee yesterday in what somehow wasn’t the ugliest game of the day (hell not even the ugliest game in Atlantis), Butler turns their attention to the BYU Cougars. What do we know? And for those of you who missed yesterday’s game you want to know what happened?
I didn’t think Butler would win, I really thought Tennessee’s length would mess with them, but that was a lot worse than I expected. Instead of recapping the game I will just tell you the final score (71-45) and show you what my initial reactions were.
If I made you watch clips of that game, it would feel far too much like that Evan Peters Jeffery Dahmer meme, so I won't. To those who were forced to relive that game, I’m sorry. But, you know what they say, you get knocked down, get up.
On this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for dumb gifs like these
BYU: Basic Overview
BYU is also 3-2, with wins over Idaho State, Missouri State and Nicholls and losses to San Diego State and USC. In my opinion, their best game came against San Diego State, a legit Top-25 team, who they were up double digits on. San Diego State pulled away late, but that was a much better showing than a four-point win over an Idaho State team that ranks 326 on KenPom. Much like Butler, BYU’s game yesterday was close until around the ten-minute mark of the second half, where USC pulled away.
More Detail: Point Guard Play
BYU doesn’t have a true point guard. They lose longtime point guard Alex Barcello who was just a perfect floor general for Mark Pope. Now, they have Coastal Carolina transfer Rudi Williams running the offense, who feels much more like a score-first combo guard running the point. He’s averaging 10.4-3.6-3.6 (points, boards, assists), which aren’t bad numbers!
The bad is the 4.8 turnovers per game. He hasn’t had a game with less than three turnovers and had EIGHT against San Diego State, the best defense BYU has played. The 4.8 turnovers per game ties Louisville’s El Ellis for the most in the country!
As a result of having no true point guard, BYU struggles with turnovers. They average 18.8 turnovers per game, which is seventh most in the country. That’s really, really bad. BYU’s assist-to-turnover ratio is .691, which isn’t much better.
In Butler’s wins, their opponents are averaging 21.3 turnovers, compared to 13.5 in their losses. It’s a huge difference when Butler can force turnovers, which lead to runouts and easier offense.
One area where BYU thrives is on the offensive glass. BYU is averaging 12.2 offensive rebounds per game, good for Top-20 nationally. That’s the highest of any Butler opponent, and by a good margin. BYU is very good at attacking the offensive glass and getting second chances on offense.
Sophomore Fousseyni Traore leads the Cougars, averaging 3.2 offensive rebounds per game, with senior Gideon George averaging 2.8 offensive rebounds per game. These two bigs are combining for six (great math by me) offensive rebounds per game, which adds another dimension to this BYU offense. If you want to beat BYU you have to take them off of the offensive glass.
Spread: Butler -2
One thing I haven’t mentioned is their shooting percentages. BYU isn’t a great shooting team. They're shooting 31.1% from the three-point line and 64.4% from the free throw line, 243 and 307 ranked, respectively. They’re much better inside the arc where they shoot 52.7%, good for the Top 100. A lot of their scoring comes inside the arc, but it’s not because of a significant athleticism advantage. They play at a pretty fast pace, but they are much closer to Butler’s athleticism level than anything like Tennessee’s.
For their starting lineup, everyone is between 6’2” and 6’7”, including both Traore and George being listed at 6’6”, their two leaders on the glass. They aren’t the biggest team out there, which is refreshing after going up against a Tennessee team where it feels like they just had twelve 6’8” guys with 300-inch wingspans.
BYU is also a pretty balanced offense with their four leading scorers all averaging between 12.6 and 10.4 points per game, with Spencer Johnson leading the way.
I think a lot of this plays directly into Butler’s hands. Butler should be able to force turnovers, play a really up-tempo game, and Manny Bates should be able to mitigate any offensive rebounding advantage BYU has. I think Butler is the more talented team, I think they match up much better today than yesterday.
A team can’t turn the ball over like BYU does and expect to beat Butler. BYU is much more like Butler in terms of athleticism and length, and I don’t think they have the firepower to match the Dogs. I really like Butler in today’s game, as this should be a very good bounce-back spot.
I’m a little worried about how you bounce back mentally after a performance like that yesterday, so I think the start of this game is important. It’s not easy to watch yourselves crumble against a really, really good Tennessee team and play less than 24 hours later, but this group has shown they don’t give up on themselves. Hopefully, they can put that result behind them and bounce back in a very good spot.
Even with that mental aspect to this game, I don’t think Butler should be anything shorter than a five-point favorite today. I think they are better than BYU in almost every aspect and have the skillset to nullify everything that BYU does well. And you’re giving me Eric Hunter against a point guard with turnover issues? Thank you very much.
Butler 79, BYU 65
And of course, a message from Blue to close this piece.