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Pre-Duel Pleasantries: Butler

Where we talk to our good friends over at Butler Hoops about Saturday's game.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

As much as we would love to continue basking in the light of winning another Crosstown Shootout, we have another game to play. This Saturday the Musketeers take on the Butler Bulldogs in a critical Big East matchup. Butler has made some waves in league play this year, so beating them at home would definitely help us out. To get a better idea about what Butler is about, we talked to Dirkus Callahan over at Butler Hoops to get us ready.

1.) Since we last met, y'all have went 7-2 with those loses being against Nova and Georgetown. What has been the key to the success? Is it simply this time finally hitting its stride?

That's probably part of it, but a bigger factor to me is who Butler played during that stretch, and where they played them.  They've played Creighton twice, Seton Hall twice as they've been headed down a wrong path, DePaul and St. John's (not to mention St. John's didn't have Obekpa for most of the game) at home, and Marquette on the road, as well as Georgetown on the road and Villanova at home.  So while every game in the Big East is going to be a grind, the games they probably should have won, they did.

2.) Last time we met, all five of your starters got into the double digits for points. Do you expect this to be the case again, or will certain players stand out above the rest?

I don't expect it to be, especially since the leading scorer for Butler in that game (Andrew Chrabascz) is out, but it's going to take balance for Butler to win on Saturday at the Cintas Center.  Dunham will be blanketed, per usual, so it's going to take big games from Jones, Woods and Barlow to get it done on the road.  Honestly though, I have no idea what to expect from Butler offensively tomorrow in terms of scheme.  The Bulldogs had one practice to implement an offense without one of their best offensive weapons before Creighton.  Now that they've had most of the week to prepare for his absence, I'd expect more significant changes, but what they'll end up being, I have no idea.

3.) Right now Butler is second in the Big East. Is that the seed that you expect them to get in the Big East tournament and how do you think the team will fare?

That all depends if Chrabascz is back and when he comes back more than anything.  I don't expect them to hold onto the 2nd seed regardless considering they have at least a couple more games without their best (and really only) consistent interior scoring presence and still have head to heads with Georgetown and Providence, but if Andrew's able to come back for a couple games prior to the conference tournament, then I could see them making a run to the semis or possibly even the championship game if everything falls into place.  Otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised if his absence meant an early exit for Butler.

4.) Senior Alex Barlow had a big game against us as well as Villanova last week, but largely disappeared against Creighton earlier in the week. What are your thoughts on him this year? And what should we expect out of him?

He's not a consistent scoring threat, but along with Roosevelt Jones and Kameron Woods, he's the heart and soul of Butler's defense, and just does whatever it takes to try and help the team win.  He will likely make life difficult on Myles Davis, Dee Davis or whoever he guards, but offensively he may shoot 4 times as he did on Monday, or he may shoot 14 times as he did against Nova, it really just depends on what the defense of Xavier is giving the Bulldogs.

5.) When I talk to other Xavier alums and current students, many view Butler to be Xavier's biggest conference rival. Do you agree with this idea, or does Butler have a bigger Big East foe currently?

I have been asked this question several times this season, and my answer is always the same.  Xavier is Butler's biggest rival in this conference, hands down, and may be the team they consider their biggest rival in the NCAA, though IU is definitely up there (to Butler fans anyway) as well.  Now while Butler isn't Xavier's biggest rivalry overall, I do think with the number of times that the Bulldogs and Musketeers have played each other over the past several years, and especially with clockgate in 2009 and the mutual interest in players such as JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett, there is no one Butler fans enjoy facing more than Xavier in the Big East.  I think Butler is starting to develop some rivalries with teams like St. John's and Marquette as well, but it still won't be as intense as Butler and Xavier.

6.) Last time y'all pulled away in the second half of the game, but this game is away from Hinkle and is at the Cintas Center. How do you think the game will go?

I think that depends if Butler can slow down Stainbrook (or at least negate him with their own interior scoring) at all without Chrabascz and how well Xavier is shooting from deep.  This is a game that Xavier should win, regardless of the number next to Butler's name because of Chrabascz's absence.  I do think that Butler will compete, maybe even into the 2nd half, but I see Xavier winning this one fairly comfortably down the stretch.  Let's say 68-54.