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Xavier v. Butler: Preview, TV listings, radio stream

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Xavier has looked like a challenger for the league title at home, but their road performances have been less encouraging. Here's what they'll be up against in Hinkle tomorrow.

Alex Barlow struggles to stand up.
Alex Barlow struggles to stand up.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The essentials
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: A barn in Indianapolis
TV: FOX Sports 1
TWC 317
DirecTV 219
DISH 150
Cincinnati Bell 58/506(HD)
Radio feed: 55 KRC

Xavier has never been under .500 in the Big East. That stat is a little less impressive when cast in the context of the fact that this is only the team's second season in the conference, but the Muskies pulled off a big home win against Seton Hall to keep their non-losing record alive this season. Now they head to Hinkle Fieldhouse to play Butler.

Butler wasn't expected to do much this year, but they had wins away from home against Georgetown and Oklahoma North Carolina (thanks to @HinkleMagic for the correction) under their belts before the Thanksgiving weekend was out. Pulling a road trip to Nova on New Year's Eve got their Big East season off to a bad start, and a home loss to Providence Tuesday sees them sitting at 1-2 in the league heading into tomorrow's game.

Team fingerprint:
Defense is where the magic happens for Butler. They are 55th in the nation in TO% and 41st in steal%; the Bulldogs are intent on turning you over before you get a look at the rim. They are average defensively against two-point buckets, but they smother the three-point arc. Blocking shots is far from a strength, but they do a superb job of keeping opponents off the offensive glass.

On the other end, the Bulldogs are merely above average. They're a mediocre shooting team, but they take care of the ball very well and are 38th in the nation in OReb%. Their free throw shooting is especially poor (65.8% as a team). Ball movement (303rd in assists per FG) and three-point shooting (257th in 3PA per FGA) are not points of emphasis for the offense.

Starters:

STARTING MATCHUPS
Alex Barlow POINT GUARD Dee Davis
Senior Class Senior
5'11", 187 Measurements 6'0", 160
8.3/3.3/2.1 Game line 9.8/2.0/5.5
.410/.328/.857 Shooting line .441/.341/.784
Barlow is a game manager at point guard more than a player who runs the offense. He's a respectable shooter, but his turnover rate is too high for him to be more than an average offensive player. He is a persistent and pesky defender, ranking 22nd in the nation in steal%. Despite his limitations, he'll spend 80% of the game on the floor.
Kellen Dunham SHOOTING GUARD Remy Abell
Junior Class Junior
6'6", 185 Measurements 6'4", 195
17.0/2.6/0.8 Game line 9.8/1.7/2.0
.451/.471/.867 Shooting line .546/.417/.722
Dunham is a shooter first and foremost, pouring in threes from all around the arc. He's above average from the mid-range but a poor finisher at the rim. He likes to catch and shoot, but he has added some dribble moves to his game this year.
Roosevelt Jones SMALL FORWARD Trevon Bluiett
Junior Class Freshman
6'4", 227 Measurements 6'6", 215
11.3/5.9/3.9 Game line 13.1/5.1/2.1
.416/.000/.544 Shooting line .464/.377/.827
Jones is a wing who distributes like a point guard (24% assist rate) and hits the offensive glass like a center (8.4% OReb%). Three quarters of his shots come at the rim, mostly on drives and stickbacks. He's not a great defensive rebounder. Whoever is tasked with guarding him has to be active enough to disrupt his distribution while being diligent enough on the glass to keep him from extending possessions.
Andrew Chrabascz FORWARD James Farr
Sophomore Class Junior
6'7", 225 Measurements 6'9", 237
9.1/3.6/1.6 Game line 5.3/6.1/0.7
.452/.273/.568 Shooting line .410/.259/.556
Chrabascz's usage is up after a solid freshman year, but his production is down. He's not a good rebounder on either end, so he relies on his ability to score to make himself useful. He shot .525/.455/.763 last season but has really taken a step back from that this year. Still, if there's any team a stretch four can get healthy against, it's Xavier.
Kameron Woods CENTER Matt Stainbrook
Senior Class Senior
6'9", 200 Measurements 6'10", 263
7.3/9.0/1.3 Game line 11.8/7.5/2.1
.488/.000/.640 Shooting line .644/.333/.742
Woods is the best rebounder on the team at both ends of the floor, leads the team in block%, and is second in steal%. His success in those phases of the game is important, because he's not a good finisher for a man his size and takes more mid-range shots than he probably should.

Reserves:
Butler gets only 23.4% of their minutes off the bench, 333rd in the nation. The most frequently used sub is Kelan Martin, a 6'6" freshman wing who averages 8.4/2.3/0.4 on .415/.232/.655 shooting. He has far and away the highest usage rate and shots% on the team; he's a pure gunner. Forward Tyler Wideman is a wide man, measuring 6'8", 245 and going for 3 and 3 in his 10 minutes per game. Senior wing Austin Etherington pitches in 3 and 2 in 13 minutes to round out the bench.

Three questions:
-Who guards Kellen Dunham?
Dunham presents an interesting choice for Coach Mack. On the one hand, a 6'6" guard who is the opponent's leading scorer would be an obvious candidate for Remy to defend. On the other hand, Dunham scored a total of 13 points on 4-20/2-10/3-6 shooting in two games against Xavier last season. If Dee covers Dunham, do you move Remy to PG Alex Barlow or flex forward Roosevelt Jones?

-Can Stainbrook force help? Kameron Woods is a very good defender, but he's also an inch shorter and 70 pounds lighter than Matt Stainbrook. My nephew's favorite Muskie (shoutout to Mr. Weez) hasn't been as influential on games lately as Xavier fans expect to see, but Xavier needs him to be able to force Butler to rotate if they want to open up the Bulldogs' defense.

-Can Xavier do it on the road? If you're reading this site, you probably know what this is about. For the uninformed, Xavier has been excellent at home but struggled to put together a cohesive 40 minutes on the road. These teams are fairly evenly matched on paper; if the Musketeers execute like they have on the road all year, they'll lose. It's that simple.

Three keys:
-The first four minutes of the second half. Xavier has gone from in control to in a dog fight too many times this year due to coming out of the locker room sluggish, especially during road games. There's not much analysis to be done here; Xavier can't afford to play through the first media timeout looking like they spent halftime gorging on whole milk and brownies.

-Control the defensive glass. Butler loves to play at a slow pace and feasts off of second chances. Xavier can shake them out of their comfort zone in both regards by holding them to one and done on their offensive possessions. Being able to rip it out and go will also allow Xavier to put pressure on Butler's thin bench as the pace increases and legs get heavy.

-Pound the post. Butler's weakness on defense is the middle, owing to the fact that their big men are not all that large (effective height of -0.4"). This may be a game to play Stainbrook and Reynolds together a lot as two traditional big men working around the basket could stress Butler's interior defense to the breaking point. Chrabascz is not a great interior player at the four; forcing him to try to handle a bigger man near the basket might be Xavier's key to victory today.