Game Preview: #22 Butler at Wisconsin-Milwaukee

February 17th, 2009

Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers

Record: 14-11 (11-2 home)
Conference: Horizon (9-6)
Rankings: N/A
RPI: No. 104 (vs. Butler #9)
Sagarin’s: No. 106 (vs. Butler #15)
Last Five: 2-3
First Meeting: Butler 78 UWM 48

When: February 18, 8:00 ET
Where: US Cellular Arena – Milwaukee, WI

Notes: UWM has cooled off after a surprising 7-2 start in the Horizon League. Now, the Panthers sit in 5th place and are in danger of missing out on a first-round bye in the HL tourney. In their first match up with Butler, Milwaukee got housed 78-48. Conventional wisdom says Butler should win this game, too, especially considering the Bulldogs are out to avenge a loss to Loyola. But Milwaukee is more than capable of winning at home. It took overtime for Green-Bay to hand UWM its only home conference loss.

Other stats:
Scoring Margin: +0.4
Rebounding margin: +1.8
Turnover ratio: -1.4
3-Point %: 34.4
FT%: 72.1

Starters
UWM PG Franklin, Ricky 6’1 200lbs SR
PPG: 7.6, RPG: 4.3, APG: 2.5
Butler PG Nored, Ronald 6’0 170lbs FR
PPG: 3.6, RPG: 3.0, APG: 2.6

Franklin was one of Milwaukee’s few bright spots in its 0-2 road trip to Ohio. The senior connected on 7-12 3’s for 27 points in two games. He’s a glue-guy who can help UWM’s upset bid if he matches his weekend performance. Nored shot three 3’s against Loyola and missed them all, badly. Really badly.

Advantage: Milwaukee

UWM SG Boyle, Tone 6’2 175lbs JR
PPG: 14.8, RPG: 3.6, APG: 1.3
Butler SG Mack, Shelvin 6’3 185lbs FR
PPG: 12.2, RPG: 3.8, APG: 3.6

Boyle and Mack are both struggling with their shots, but still have potential to ignite an offense on any given night. Mack, especially, has hit a wall. He was just 1-10 from the floor against Loyola. He needs find his shot in a big way for Butler.

Advantage: Push

UWM G Smith, Avery 6’3 195lbs SR
PPG: 11.8, RPG: 4.8, APG: 3.1
Butler G Hayward, Gordon 6’8 180lbs FR
PPG: 13.8, RPG: 7.0, APG: 2.0

Smith is hard to figure out. He has arguably the quickest first step in the HL, but lacks consistency. If his first few shots fall, he can explode for 20-plus. On the other hand, if his shot is not on, he disappears on both ends of the court. Meanwhile, Hayward’s numbers looked (14 points, 9 rebounds) okay against Loyola, but he couldn’t come up with a big shot and had six costly turnovers.

Advantage: Butler

UWM F Meier, Tony 6’8 210lbs FR
PPG: 7.1, RPG: 4.7, APG: 0.8
Butler F Veasley, Willie 6’3 190lbs JR
PPG: 8.7, RPG: 4.0, APG: 1.2

Meier has been a solid addition to the Panthers. His build is similar to Hayward and should have a nice career ahead of him. Veasley was sluggish against Loyola. Uncharacteristically, he missed a number of big defensive and box out assignments. He needs to show better leadership and judgment on the court.

Advantage: Butler

UWM C Hill, Anthony 6’7 230lbs SO
PPG: 6.7, RPG: 4.6, APG: 0.5
Butler C Howard, Matt 6’8 220lbs SO
PPG: 13.8, RPG: 7.0, APG: 1.1

Hill was ineffective in the first match up with Butler and won’t see as many minutes as James “Lumber” Earys. Howard was the only Butler player to show up against Loyola. He was unstoppable in the paint and could have scored 40 if the other players wouldn’t have taken 3’s early in the shot clock.

Advantage: Butler

Bench

UWM
C Eayrs, James 6’7 310lbs JR PPG: 10.6, RPG: 5.6, APG: 1.0
G Roberts, Deonte 6’3 190lbs SO PPG: 5.8, RPG: 3.5, APG: 1.6
G James, Deion 6’2 190lbs SR PPG: 3.8, RPG: 1.9, APG: 0.5

Butler
G Hahn, Zach 6’0 170lbs SO PPG: 5.9, RPG: 1.4, APG: 0.9
F Butcher, Garrett 6’7 190lbs FR PPG: 2.6, RPG: 1.6, APG: 0.2
G Vanzant, Shawn 6’1 175lbs SO PPG: 3.8, RPG: 1.6, APG: 1.1

Eayrs may be the butt of jokes, but his game is anything but a joke. He’s come up with big shot after big shot for UWM. And the Milwaukee fans feed off his contributions. Butler has suffered from the absence of Shawn Vanzant, especially on the defensive end. Now with Jukes out, Butler really lacks size.

Advantage: Milwaukee

Final Analysis: How will the Bulldogs respond to an inexcusable home loss to Loyola? What did that game do to their confidence? Who will step up as a leader? These questions will be in play at Milwaukee. This game should be close. Milwaukee is tougher than most people know, especially at home and especially after the way they were whacked at Butler. This one will come down to the final minute.

Prediction: Butler 64, Milwaukee 60.

Your thoughts: I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say about this game. How important is it? Who needs to step up their game? Who will win?