The Butler Bulldogs are headed to face the Marquette Golden Eagles in a Big East matchup on Wednesday night. Butler is coming into this game at 6-7 in the Big East, while Marquette is at 10-2 and second in the conference. Butler has won 3 of their last 4 games since their home loss to Marquette last month. Marquette lost to St. Johns in their following game but then rebounded to beat Villanova and DePaul in their last two games.
Butler Falling Just Short of the Top Tier
Butler has not performed well all season and their record of 15-11 showcases that, but they don’t have a ton of mad losses. They are a fine basketball team that often loses to the better team. They project to be a slightly better than .500 team and that is exactly what has happened throughout the season. Butler has played 3 ranked teams this season and lost each game, but none of the by double-digits, which is a nice boost. However, there have been some ugly losses on their record, including a 30-point loss to Florida.
Butler is led by Kamar Baldwin, who averages over 6 more minutes than anyone else on the roster at 34 minutes. That is a really high number over the course of the season, but Baldwin has produced 17.5 points per game on pretty poor 3-pt shooting numbers. Baldwin leads Butler in every category besides assists per game, which is led by guard Aaron Thompson. Baldwin’s stats are definitely inflated due to his increased floor time, but he is clearly the heartbeat of this Butler squad. After Baldwin, I expect to see Sean McDermott be the second leading shot-getter in this game for the Bulldogs. McDermott is a 6’6 forward that averages about 10 points per game on 7.5 shots. He took 10 shots against Marquette in the first game but struggled from the field at just 3-10 shooting.
Marquette Having A Strong Season
Marquette is the #11 ranked team in the country, and their resume is rather impressive. The only thing that they lack are signature wins along the way. This Marquette team hasn’t seen a ton of great teams this season, but they have been solid in those games. They have a loss to Kansas, which is a fine loss for a team of their caliber. Then they have big wins over Villanova, Buffalo, Kansas State, and Wisconsin. Some of these teams are now regarded as worse than they were when they played the game, but they are still all above average opponents that Marquette took care of. They have a loss to Indiana, which now looks really bad. Indiana started off the year on fire but have recently fallen off of a cliff. The other 2 losses were both to a solid St. John’s team that seemingly has the Golden Eagles’ number. The best thing about the resume is that it lacks red flags, which is always something to look into when betting a favorite.
Markus Howard is clearly “the man” on this Marquette team. He averages 25 points a game, good for 4th in the country. Howard also leads the team in assists and steals per game as well. Howard is a natural scorer that is shooting an incredibly impressive 44% from three-point range this year along with 91% from the line. Marquette’s second and third leading scorers are brothers, who are both forwards that shoot around 90% from the line. This is a big reason for Marquette’s success this season and why they are a top 10 free throw shooting team in the country.
Marquette Will Come Out On Top
This game is not a situation where I think one team is completely overmatched, but I do think that Marquette is the much better basketball team. They have more consistent scoring from the top of the team, and they are a more complete team. With the combination of size and skill, I think that Marquette takes advantage of Butler and covers the -6 spread in this one.