Butler (6-2) at Northwestern (7-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Butler 4-0, NU 4-2. Away Record: Butler 0-1, NU 1-0. Neutral Record: Butler 2-1, NU 2-0. Conference Record: Butler 0-0, NU 0-0. Series Record: NU leads, 16-8.
GAME NOTES: The Butler Bulldogs look to stay hot as they take on the Northwestern Wildcats in a non-conference tilt at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Butler swept its recent three-game homestand with double-digit wins over Hanover (97-73), Ball State (67-53) and IUPUI (87-55). Overall, the Bulldogs have won five of their last six, including wins over the likes of Marquette and North Carolina at last month's Maui Invitational. Tonight's contest is only the second true road game of the season for the Bulldogs.
Northwestern opened the season 6-0 before dropping two straight to Maryland and UIC last week. However, the Wildcats got back into the win column with Wednesday's 74-70 triumph at Baylor. They'll begin a season-long five-game homestand in this contest.
NU holds a 16-8 lead in the all-time series, although Butler has won the last three meetings.
Butler ran IUPUI out of the building Wednesday night, holding the Jaguars to 1-of-9 shooting over the first 9:25 of regulation en route to a 20-2 lead. The Bulldogs went on to shoot 55.6 percent for the game and finished with 14 steals, their highest total in a game since 2000. They also enjoyed another solid performance from senior guard Rotnei Clarke, the Atlantic 10's third- leading scorer (17.9 ppg). Clarke has really asserted himself to his new program after transferring from Arkansas, posting six consecutive games scoring in double figures and sharing the team lead with 17 points against IUPUI. He entered the weekend tied for third in the country in 3-point field goals (4.0 per game). Clark has also gotten plenty of help from supporting cast mates Khyle Marshall (12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Kellen Dunham (11.0 ppg).
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody has gone with the same starting lineup in all nine games, headlined by the tandem of Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn. Crawford is averaging a team-best 14.3 points to go along with 4.4 rebounds, while Hearn is putting up 14.2 points and 5.4 boards per contest. Dave Sobolewski rounds out the team's double-digit scorers with 10.3 ppg. All three of those players can stretch defenses with their outside shooting, as they have combined to knock down 50 3-pointers on 45-percent accuracy. But the Wildcats don't simply camp out along the perimeter, as they boast a +3.4 rebounding margin and boast five players pulling down at least 4.4 rebounds per tilt. NU shot a collective 51 percent from the floor in Wednesday's victory, while also enjoying a 37-24 rebounding edge. All five starters reached double figures, as Crawford led all scorers with 19 points and Hearn recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards.
Butler has won its last three games by an average margin of 23.3 points and has outscored its last two opponents, 49-13, in points off turnovers. However, the Bulldogs are running into a hot Northwestern squad that can beat foes from outside or down low and will be playing at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 71, Butler 69
12/08 10:33:52 ET