Once again, the presidential campaign of Blue and Jack reigns on, as Butler and Georgetown face off yet again, this time in the nation's capital. These two teams match up in a rematch of the Big East opener, which saw the Butler Bulldogs come away with a 74-64 win.
Spread: Butler -3.5
Venue: Capital One Arena
Will it be any different in the House that Cooley built, aka the Captial One Arena? Here is my Game Preview for Butler vs Georgetown:
What Happened in the Opener?
It’s important to note that Jayden Epps, the conference’s leading scorer was not 100% in this game, he had just returned from an extended absence. It’s equally important to mention that DJ Davis also got injured early in the second half, after a really hot start.
Four Bulldogs finished in double figures, and Dontrez Styles led all scorers with 19 for Georgetown. Butler went on a huge 13-0 run, Posh Alexander had five steals, as a part of 13 turnovers, leading to 15 points for the Bulldogs. Also, Supreme Cook had six offensive rebounds, mainly early.
Lastly, Georgetown finished with eight total assists as a team in this game. In games where Georgetown has 11 assists or fewer, the Hoyas are 0-7.
What’s happened since?
Butler is 2-5 following this game, with wins at Marquette and at home over DePaul. Butler had two very competitive games in Hinkle against UConn and Seton Hall, but unfortunately wasn’t able to come out on top in either contest. Georgetown is 1-5 with their lone win coming at home over DePaul.
Keys to the Game
The Battle on the Interior:
In their original matchup, Butler had 46 points in the paint. Butler was able to find driving lanes and attack those relentlessly. Georgetown does a good job of keeping teams off the three-point line (32.5% allowed, 95th in the country), but is often beaten inside, allowing opponents to shoot 53.9% inside the arc, which ranks 304th in the country.
Butler loves attacking the middle of the floor in space, and that’s exactly how Xavier was able to beat Georgetown in their last contest. I would expect Butler to look to do something very similar. In Georgetown’s last three games, their opponents are shooting 59.8% from inside the arc.
The Bulldogs will need to attack the rim in this one and get easy buckets in the lane. This is a perfect game to finally get Jahmyl Telfort going, as he’s really struggled in Big East play (10PPG, 28.6 FG%). Georgetown has been running a lot more zone recently too, this is a spot where Telfort can feast from the high post, making plays for himself and others.
On the other end, Butler has surrendered 10 or more offensive rebounds to opponents in 10 of their 18 games this season against D1 opponents. In those games, they are 5-5 (wins include the last Georgetown game). Butler surrenders an average of 10.1 offensive rebounds per game, ranking 315th in the country. The Bulldogs had their best effort on the glass in their last time out against DePaul, only allowing four Blue Demon offensive rebounds.
Despite Georgetown not generally being a great rebounding team, the Hoyas are an excellent offensive rebounding team. Their offensive rebounding rate of 34.7% ranks 36th in the entire country and fourth in the Big East.
Supreme Cook has been an animal in these last few games, averaging nearly five offensive rebounds per game in conference play, including nine offensive boards against UConn. According to KenPom.com, Supreme Cook ranks 15th nationally in offensive rebounding rate at 16.7%, second in the Big East only to Seton Hall’s Jaden Bediako.
They Call them “Free” for a Reason
It’s been well documented by some, myself included, that during Thad Matta’s short tenure at Butler, his teams don’t foul. This team is no different. They average the 15th fewest fouls in the nation per game, at 14.0.
What makes this a key in this contest is that Georgetown’s offense loves drawing contact. The Hoyas get 21.5% of their points from the free-throw line, ranking 61st in the country according to KenPom. In games where the Hoyas attempt 22 or more free throws, they are 5-2 (including that TCU game, so really 6-1).
Meanwhile, when the Bulldogs surrender 19 or more free-throw attempts to opponents, they are 0-5, with losses to UConn, FAU, Providence, St. John’s and Xavier. The Bulldogs have given up 22 or more free throw attempts only three times this season.
Against Butler the first time, the Hoyas only got to the line ten times, converting nine of them. In games where the Hoyas had 11 or fewer FT’s, they are 0-3, with losses to Butler, Marquette and Creighton. If Butler can keep the Hoyas off the free throw line and force tough twos, that could allow for Butler to attack the Hoyas defense in transition, and lead to some easy buckets in an area where the Hoya defense is very vulnerable.
The Georgetown Hoyas live and die by the three this year. Georgetown attempts 41.2% of their shots from three-point range, which ranks 86th in the country. The Hoyas convert 35.3% of those attempts, which ranks 104th, and get 34.5% of their points from beyond the arc, which ranks 69th (nice) in the country. Georgetown is a very solid shooting team, it’s the foundation of their offense.
The Butler defense has been susceptible to getting beat by the long ball in conference play. Since the first Georgetown game, the Bulldogs have given up an average of 33.5% from three by opponents on 24.7 attempts per game. Which actually doesn’t look too bad on paper, that number is just around the national average.
However, if we think back to the Marquette game, the Golden Eagles missed quite a few wide-open looks from beyond the arc, shooting 5/31. If we take out that game (yes, there probably are other outlier shots going the other way too, but I think this outlier is still significant), the Bulldogs are allowing opponents to shoot 37.9% from three in conference play, a number which would rank in the bottom 15 nationally if applied to the whole season. The long ball has been a weapon to beat the Bulldogs in conference play with UConn, Providence and Xavier all making at least ten threes en route to victories over the Bulldogs.
The Hoyas have been looking much better lately. All three games were losses, but they played UConn fairly tough in Storrs, and played really well in games against Seton Hall and at Xavier, two wins they absolutely could have come away with. I think the Hoyas have been on a better run of form in these last few games than the Bulldogs have, who more or less sleptwalk through a W over DePaul, after a fairly convincing loss to Xavier.
That said, that’s a really small sample size and doesn’t take matchups into account at all. I think Posh Alexander is the perfect guy to pressure (emphasize pressure, he had six steals last game and five in game one against the Hoyas) and frustrate any Georgetown ball handler, whether that’s Epps or Rowan Brumbaugh. If Alexander can take Epps out of the game, the Hoya offense could really struggle.
On the other end, the Hoyas defense is just bad. They give up so many easy looks at the rim. They close out hard on shooters, but give up bunnies inside. Butler’s a downhill, attacking offense and I think that should be on full display in this one. Butler will likely go up against a lot of zone looks against this Georgetown defense, and if they are making quick passes, they should absolutely carve up this defense.
I think the matchups play in Butler’s favor, though if Georgetown can attack the offensive glass (something I think they will do, and do effectively), they can create extra chances and muck this game up a bit. Make it ugly out there, and force Butler to make mistakes. Plus, it’s going to be hard for Posh to shut down the Big East’s leading scorer, that was much easier said than done. The Hoyas will have to draw up good looks for their shooters, which could lead to a huge win.
I think this game is very even, but in the end, I trust the battle-tested Bulldogs and their vets to score down the stretch and win a really close game. Davis, Brooks and Telfort should cause real problems for this Hoya defense. I think Georgetown hurt someone's tournament chances/seeding at some point this year and could see that being today, but I am not confident enough to pull the trigger.
Final Score: Butler 72, Georgetown 71