To say the least Saturday is a big day for both the Butler Bulldogs and the Pac-10. Butler hosts Ohio State and given the fact that Brad Stevens' team lacks a marquee win the Buckeyes represent one of their last two chances (Xavier) at a solid win before tackling Horizon League play. Ohio State is without the services of the injured Evan Turner, which will be a definite advantage for the Bulldogs. But there's still plenty of talent at Thad Matta's disposal; Turner's absence simply means that David Lighty, Jon Diebler and William Buford will have to step up their play and the same goes for their teammates.
Butler needs to shoot better than they did in their loss to Georgetown on Tuesday; even leading scorer Gordon Hayward was 7-19 from the field. Also key for the Bulldogs will be Matt Howard staying out of foul trouble. He's gotten better in that area in recent games but a banger like Dallas Lauderdale can cause issues in the paint if allowed to bang all afternoon. Butler's at-large hopes may rest on the result of this game but they still have the goal of a conference title well within their sights.
As for the Pac-10, the conference without a nationally-respected win will rest its hopes on Washington, who plays Georgetown in the first game of the Wooden Classic in Anaheim. Two of the better forwards in college basketball will be on display in Georgetown's Greg Monroe and Washington's Quincy Pondexter, but this game will be dictated by whichever team controls the tempo. Georgetown runs more deliberate offensive sets while the Huskies will look to speed them up by pressuring the guards with Venoy Overton, Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy.
Chris Wright wasn't very good at the point on Tuesday with four assists and six turnovers, and as a team Georgetown turned the ball over twenty times in the 72-65 win over Butler. A performance like that can get the Hoyas blown out on Saturday afternoon. If Wright and Jason Clark can control the tempo while keeping their turnovers to a minimum the game likely isn't decided until the final minutes. Saturday features a number of games that will have an impact on March in regards to seeding as well as who receives the final NCAA berths; the day won't lack for entertainment.
Noon CBS Kentucky at Indiana
Noon ESPN Ohio State at Butler
2p FSN Georgetown vs Washington
2p ESPN LaSalle vs. Kansas
2p ESPNU Kent State at Pittsburgh
4p VS Oklahoma at Utah
4:30p FSN Mississippi St vs UCLA
5p ESPN2 Marquette at Wisconsin
7p ESPN2 Virginia Tech at Penn State
9p ESPN2 Purdue at Alabama
10p MTN Arizona at San Diego St
1:05p Creighton at George Mason
4p Western Carolina at Louisville
4p Saint Joseph's at Minnesota
4p Saint Mary's at Oregon
6p New Mexico at Texas A&M
7p Kansas State vs. UNLV
7:30p Richmond at VCU
8p Southern Miss at South Alabama
8:05p Siena at Northern Iowa
8:05p TCU at Wichita State
Butler over Ohio State: Not going to predict doom for Ohio State with Turner out until late January at the earliest but to lose a player like that is huge, especially when going on the road. The Bulldogs will be more efficient offensively against the Buckeyes' zone defense and look for Howard and Shelvin Mack to play better than they did in the Jimmy V Classic. Bulldogs by five.