Record: 6-15 (3-5 home)
Conference: Horizon (1-10)
RPI: No. 262 (vs. Butler #9)
Sagarin’s: No. 257 (vs. Butler #21)
Last Five: 2-3 (lost 54-50 @Butler)
Tip Time: 8:05 ET
Location: Calihan Hall—Detroit, MI
PPG: 56.8 (10th HL)
Scoring Margin: -7.2 (10th HL)
Rebounding margin: -0.3 (6th HL)
Turnover ratio: -2.62 (10th HL)
3-Point %: 26.9 (10th HL)
Free Throw %: 64.8 (8th HL)
Notes: Detroit is coming off its first conference win of the season in a dramatic 68-64 overtime victory over Youngstown State. Butler, on the other hand, is coming off their first conference loss of the season (75-66) at the hands of Green Bay. The Titans believe they can beat Butler after nearly pulling out a victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse early in January. Winners of two of their last three, Detroit has been riding the hot hand of junior forward Thomas Kennedy. While not a single Titan player scored in double figures against Butler the first time around, their tortoise-like speed of play kept the Bulldogs from getting into any sort of a rhythm on offense. Even though Detroit has struggled, this is not a game Butler can overlook, as the Titans look to make arguably their biggest upset since 1999.
Detroit PG Payne, Woody 5’11 160lbs JR
PPG: 9.2, RPG: 3.6, APG: 3.4
Butler PG Nored, Ronald 6’0 170lbs FR
PPG: 3.3, RPG: 3.1, APG: 2.6
The diminutive Payne put together his most complete game in the win against YSU with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 0 turnovers. Not much of a shooter, he gets his points off the dribble and from the free throw line. Nored’s confidence seems to really be slipping. A couple of made baskets could do wonders for him and his 35% FG percentage.
Detroit SG Stephens, Eulis 6’5 185lbs JR
PPG: 7.4, RPG: 2.2, APG: 0.9
Butler SG Mack, Shelvin 6’3 185lbs FR
PPG: 12.7, RPG: 4.0, APG: 4.0
Stephens managed 8 points last time, but shot a dismal 0 for 6 from three-point range in that game. He is capable of getting hot, as evident by his 17-point performance against Chicago State last week. Mack struggled as well in the previous matchup, shooting 30% and being held to 7 points. However, his improved court vision and distribution have been key factors in Hayward’s scoring increase.
Detroit F Kennedy, Thomas 6’7 200lbs JR
PPG: 12.6, RPG: 4.7, APG: 1.1
Butler G Hayward, Gordon 6’8 180lbs FR
PPG: 13.4, RPG: 6.3, APG: 1.9
Since the loss to Butler, Kennedy has been on fire. He is averaging 17.8 points and 5.5 rebounds over six games while shooting 51% from the field. Hayward has been spectacular on the road (19.7 ppg) and is beginning to draw consideration for Horizon League Player of the Year.
Detroit F Harrington, Michael 6’8 230lbs SR
PPG: 4.6, RPG: 4.6, APG: 0.4
Butler F Veasley, Willie 6’3 190lbs JR
PPG: 8.9, RPG: 4.0, APG: 1.3
It will either be Harrington or Eugene Blue who gets the start. Both are similar players who have little effect on offense but will try to use their size to disrupt in the lane and on the glass. Veasley has struggled a bit as of late, fouling out of both Green Bay games and turning the ball over four times in each of his last two outings. Let’s hope he can get back to what he has done best this year, shutting down opponents on one end and making timely baskets at the other.
Detroit C Bennett, Jason 7’3 285lbs JR
PPG: 2.2, RPG: 1.9, APG: 0.0
Butler C Howard, Matt 6’8 220lbs SO
PPG: 13.3, RPG: 7.0, APG: 1.0
Bennett played his best game of the year at Hinkle, with 6 points, 2 boards and 2 blocks. He will be one of the four guys Detroit will throw at Howard. Last preview we talked about how Howard’s persistent foul trouble is harming Butler. Well, check out this stat: In games where he has 3 fouls or less, Butler averages a 16-point win. In games where he has 4 or more fouls Butler’s winning margin is only 5 points.
G Foster, Donavan 5’10 150lbs FR PPG: 4.9, RPG: 1.3, APG: 1.4
F Hayes, Chris 6’9 205lbs SR PPG: 4.4, RPG: 3.4, APG: 0.7
F Jokic, Nemanja 6’6 220lbs JR PPG: 4.4, RPG: 3.0, APG: 1.0
F Blue, Eugene 6’8 255lbs JR PPG: 3.5, RPG: 2.2, APG: 0.2
G Hahn, Zach 6’0 170lbs SO PPG: 5.1, RPG: 1.5, APG: 0.8
F Jukes, Avery 6’8 215lbs JR PPG: 3.7, RPG: 2.4, APG: 0.3
G Vanzant, Shawn 6’1 175lbs SO PPG: 3.9, RPG: 1.7, APG: 1.2
Detroit will rotate through its bench pretty quickly. All four of these guys average more than 15 minutes a game but don’t even total up to the productivity of the one man Butler faced Monday—Green Bay super sub Ryan Tillema. Meanwhile, Jukes had 8 points in 15 minutes last time against Detroit. Butler could use a good outing from him again.
Final Analysis: While the matchup looks to strongly favor the Bulldogs enough cannot be said about the way Detroit played them at Hinkle earlier this year. Throw in the fact that Detroit is 2-2 when hosting Butler over the past four years, and one could argue that this is no easy win for the Bulldogs. With all this said, I think Thursday’s game is one of the more important games Butler will play this season, as it is a chance to reestablish themselves after a tough loss. If they can hop out to an early lead the confidence should be restored.
Prediction: Butler 60, Detroit 48.