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Pre-Duel Pleasantries: Butler

Butler in an actual arena!

Xavier v Butler Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Xavier and Butler have quickly turned into one of the best rivalries in the Big East, and it continues today. To get you ready for the game, we talked to Jared Grubbs over at Let’s see what he had to say.

1.) Butler somehow has Villanova's number. What has when right in your two games against the Wildcats?

If I had to select just 1 thing it would be Villanova's struggle from the 3 point arc in both games. They were just 12-50 from 3 combined in the 2 games. That's an important weapon for the Wildcats, and their struggles from there opened the door for upsets and Butler took advantage. Butler threw a new zone at them in the second game that I'm not sure they were fully prepared for. I expect Xavier will see more of that zone this weekend.

Aside from that it was really two very different games. The biggest thing for Butler on the road was the reemergence of Kelan Martin. Martin had his best offensive game of the year in a tough road environment. Butler is a national title contender if Martin is playing like that.

2.) Is Brad Stevens the best coach in the NBA?

Stevens is a basketball mastermind. I can't believe I'm actually rooting for the Celtics now, but he has made me a fan. I don't watch enough of the NBA to really make any claims about Stevens being the best, but it's hard to believe anyone else could have taken Boston to where they are now. It will be interesting to see if he can eventually lead them to a title.

3.) Kelan Martin has been either a game changer or invisible this season. Which Martin do you think we will see on Sunday?

I'm hoping he's finally turned the corner. His best two performances of the season came in the past two games. Confidence is huge for him, and if he's not confident now I'm not sure he ever will be. It still looks like he's thinking too much instead of just reacting, but he's shown a lot of improvement the past couple of weeks. Butler was a good team even with Kelan struggling, but if they want to get back to the final four they need him to be the All Big East caliber player he has the potential to be.

4.) Since the game is in Cincinnati, what is your opinion of Skyline Chili?

I've never had Skyline. Does that get me kicked out of Cincinnati?

5.) After last year's game at Butler, how do bulldog fans feel about JP Macura?

I would say he's by far the most hated player. That was probably the case before last years game, and that final dunk just cemented that title. Things are just very different in Indianapolis. Last home game the Bulldogs actually intentionally took a shot clock violation on their final possession instead of trying to make the score worse. When Butler does things like that but then an opponent goes and dunks it on the final possession it's not going to go over well.

6.) Score prediction?

Butler has been all over the map this year, so I have no confidence in any predictions. With Butler trending up and Xavier trending down I'm going to pick the Bulldogs 76-71.