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Butler at Marquette Preview

We’re nearing the full swing of Big East basketball, with games on the regular at this point. After a two-game slate yesterday we have a three-game slate today, with the final tipoff being Butler at the #12 ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. Here’s what you need to know about this game.

Time: 9 pm

Location: Fiserv Forum

Channel: CBSSN

Spread: Marquette -13

How have these teams done recently

The Butler Bulldogs opened up conference play with a win against the Georgetown Hoyas, but have followed that up with tough losses on the road against Providence and St. John’s, then at home against UConn. Butler has shown real promise on the offensive side of the ball, but has been exposed defensively in conference play.

As for Marquette, coming off of a successful non-conference slate, the Golden Eagles are 2-2 in Big East play. Both wins come in Fiserv Forum against Georgetown and Creighton, with losses on the road to Seton Hall and Providence. It seemed like the length both of these teams have defensively really frustrated Marquette and never allowed the Golden Eagles to find a rhythm.

Game Preview

Both teams are entering this battle coming off of losses, with the Bulldogs coming into Fiserv on a three-game losing streak. Marquette hasn’t lost two straight regular season games since the 2021-22 season, where the Golden Eagles lost at UConn and then at Butler (OMG, that’s the team they play today!). Marquette is also looking to tie Boise State for the longest home-winning streak in the country.

Boise State beat Colorado State last night

When we dig in further in breaking down this game, a few Keys to the Game become evidently clear.

Turnover Battle

Marquette is eighth in the country in defensive turnover % (turnovers forced by Marquette), at 23.6%. The Golden Eagles are 6-1 when they force 15 or more turnovers, including some of their best wins (at Illinois, vs Kansas) and are 5-3 when their opponents have fewer than 15 TO's. In every single game they’ve played this season, the Golden Eagles have forced at least twelve turnovers.

Marquette’s defensive pressure is incredibly high, and they’re always ready in passing lanes, hunting for deflections (which they will mention on the broadcast, so I might as well say it first). That’s something they emphasize defensively and can lead to them getting out in transition and scoring easy buckets on the other end.

Butler on the other hand ranks first in the Big East (38th nationally) in fewest offensive turnovers (fewest turnovers by Butler's offense) at 14.8%. The Bulldogs have been very good with the ball and are 3-1 in games where they have less than 10 turnovers, including some of their best wins (neutral court vs Boise State and Penn State) with the lone loss being the OT defeat to Providence in heartbreaking fashion. The Bulldogs have only turned the ball over more than 12 times twice this season, against Southeast Missouri State and California (2OT).

This game will largely be determined by Marquette either turning Butler over a ton, or the Bulldogs holding onto the ball and preventing Marquette from getting out in transition.

Three Point Line

There are a lot of numbers to present, so stick with me. Both teams are pretty good at defending the three-point line. Butler ranks fifth in the Big East in three-point defense (opponents make 31.7% of attempts from beyond the arc) and Marquette ranks sixth (32.2%).

On the other end, neither have been excellent three-point shooting teams, with Butler ranking sixth in the Big East (33.9%), while Marquette ranks eighth in the conference (32.9%). These numbers would tend to indicate that this battle is relatively even, and might not mean a ton as we play this game.

However, both teams give up a very high percentage of three-point attempts. Marquette allows their opponents to take the highest percentage of their shots from three in the Big East, with 42.9% of the shots opponents take being from long-range (ranking 326th nationally in the highest rate of threes allowed). Butler, on the other hand, allows opponents to take exactly 40% of their attempts from long-distance ranking seventh in the Big East (ranking 270th in the country). 

While both teams defend the three-point line pretty well, they also allow a ton of attempts from deep. I would expect many shots from deep on both sides, so whichever team is converting those looks will likely go a long way to determining the winner of this game.

Here's a video I made explaining some of the things Butler doesn't do well when defending the three. I tend to think the percentage number is a little misleading, especially with UConn and Providence both making over ten threes against the Bulldogs. Here's the full article in which I went into detail on the Bulldogs season, including some concerns I had then with their defense. If you want an in-depth look, that's the best you're going to find.

For Butler, the Bulldogs are 2-3 when opponents shoot better than 35% from three, and those two wins both came in overtime (double OT in one case) in Hinkle Fieldhouse against Texas Tech and California. Marquette is 0-2 in games when their opponent shoots over 40% from three, falling at the hands of Purdue and Seton Hall.

If either team is converting these attempts, it could be a really long day for their opponent.


These are two of the worst rebounding teams in the conference. In terms of rebounding differential, these two squads rank ninth (Butler) and tenth (Marquette) in the Big East. The same goes for total rebounding rate, with Marquette collecting 48.6% of total misses, and Butler at 50.3%. Despite these numbers, Marquette is the superior defensive rebounding team, collecting 72.7% of opponent misses (172nd in nation, 7th in BE), to Butler collecting 70.8% (243rd in nation, 8th in BE). 

I’d be foolish if I didn’t point out that Marquette’s philosophy involves getting back and getting set on defense, and won’t send many guys on the offensive glass as a result. I can see some Butler fans cheering about this because Butler has given up an average of 11.25 offensive rebounds per game in conference play, a number that would rank 351st in the country if applied to the full season. [For what it’s worth, for the full season they are giving up 10.4 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks 324th in the country]. I can’t see Marquette not trying to exploit this, they’re far too smart to not at least try to do so.

Straight up, these are two teams that are weaker on the glass. Someone will have to win the rebounding battle, and that could go a long way to determining a winner.


A lot of the battles I mentioned here were near even, or are areas in which both teams thrive. However, there’s a huge difference between these two teams. If you go onto the website, you will notice that Marquette ranks twelfth in adjusted defensive efficiency. Butler, on the other hand, ranks 121st. These teams are in different leagues on that end of the floor. A lot of Marquette’s defensive success is prided on them forcing turnovers, but still, they’re the much better defensive team and that will matter.

Marquette’s offense also is designed to get tons of three-point looks with the spacing they play with, which should play in their favor in this one. Butler’s is much more designed at getting to that Big East logo inside the paint and making plays from there. If Marquette can defend the middle of the floor and use their spacing and pick-and-roll offense to find open shooters, it could be a long day for this Butler defense.

Lastly, there have been Butler fans clamoring for more Andre Screen minutes. There are certain matchups where he will have huge games. In this one, however, with how Oso Ighadaro can handle the ball, combined with the spacing Ben Gold provides off the bench (and their constant motion Pick and rolls), I would imagine this is a game that he doesn’t play much in due to his defensive limitations. I could be very wrong of course (if he’s rebounding well, and is managing the dunker spot really well, considering Marquette doesn’t have an elite shot blocker), but I would be very interested to see how Marquette attacks him defensively.

Interesting game, but this is Marquette’s to lose. I think this is a huge spot for their offense to get back on track and control this game.

Final Score: Marquette 80, Butler 67

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