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Previewing Butler: Pirates looking to improve to 4-1 and get even in series

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Seton Hall won one of three battles with Butler a year ago.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off their road win at Creighton, No. 21 Seton Hall hosts Butler at Prudential Center tomorrow night.

The visiting Bulldogs are 2-2 in Big East play after a 10-3 non-conference schedule that included a win over North Carolina at Battle 4 Atlantis. Butler has already registered one road win in tri-state area after beating St. John's 73-69 on January 3rd. The Bulldogs lost a whopping 51 votes after splitting their home games against Providence and Xavier this week. Butler scored a surprising 88 points on the Musketeers at home after Seton Hall was only able to muster 58.

Seton Hall was 1-2 against Butler in three games last year, winning the all-important third game 51-50 in the Big East Tournament. Half of Butler's four conference wins came against the Pirates in 2013-14 and they held the Hall to .92, .87 and .85 points per possession in their three meetings including a tough 64-57 loss at the Rock in the first-ever encounter between the schools. Kellen Dunham was held to just nine points in that game but drilled a few clutch threes late on when it mattered most. Sterling Gibbs registered seven points and five assists.

A win for the hosts would mean another week in the AP Top 25 and improving to 4-1 in the league. Seton Hall started 4-1 in conference play in 2011-12 before receiving a ranking and losing at South Florida, sparking a six-game skid.

Scouting Butler

I consulted with Dirkus Callahan of on some of the following

Three-point threat Kellen Dunham (16.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg) is Butler's leading scorer and a player to watch tomorrow night. Along with Ron Baker of Wichita State, Dunham is one of the better shooters Seton Hall's sixth-ranked three-point defense will face this season. Dunham torched Seton Hall for 29 points including a perfect 7 of 7 from beyond the arc in Seton Hall's season finale a year ago.

Do-everything guard Roosevelt Jones (11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.1 apg) received a medical redshirt for an injury last season but has provided plenty of production since his return. Jones isn't very quick but he is strong off the dribble and can create for others. He's a pretty good defender and will probably split time on Sterling Gibbs with point guard Alex Barlow (8.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.4 spg). Jones shares some time running the offense with Barlow, who is backed up by Australian Jackson Aldridge.

At forward, Andrew Chrabascz (9.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and Kameron Woods (7.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg) round out Chris Holtmann's core five players (333rd in bench minutes). Their post defense hasn't been the best in conference play, but Butler has the 34th-best offensive rebounding percentage and the 26th-best defensive rebounding percentage. Butler rebounds well as a team, as seen in games like North Carolina, but Woods will be Angel Delgado's main opponent on the glass.

Butler's three main guys off the bench are Indiana transfer Austin Etherington (3 ppg, 1.9 rpg), who plays out of position at the four, top-150 freshman Kelan Martin (8.2 ppg), who started hot but has only scored nine points in conference play, and freshman Tyler Wideman (3.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg), who brings scrappy forward minutes off the bench.

Similar to Seton Hall, Butler has the 19th-best three-point defense, something that the Pirates will put to the test. Like most Butler teams since 2008, their defense (29th in efficiency) is strong. The Bulldogs have finished top-50 in defensive efficiency every season since 2007-08 except last and are on par to do so again.

Three things to watch:

Angel Delgado's ability to score on Kameron Woods. Seton Hall can't expect to rely on Sterling Gibbs every game, which makes me wonder if Willard plans to get the ball down low to Delgado more often. It should be a little bit easier for Seton Hall to orchestrate something like that at home rather than at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler doesn't have too much size beyond Woods, who has picked up four fouls in each of his last two games.

Battle of the perimeter. Both Seton Hall and Butler have good three-point defenses, the Pirates have taken 26 threes in each of their last two games, and the Bulldog's main threat is lethal from beyond the arc. All these trends will come into play at the Rock.

Butler's ability to rebound. As shown above, Butler is top-40 in both rebounding categories, while Seton Hall has struggled on the defensive glass (269th). The Hall is 39th in offensive rebounding and Angel Delgado cleans the offensive glass at the 16th-best rate in the country. Tuesday's game might have a lot of extra possessions.

Series history (SHU 1-2):

March 12, 2014, SETON HALL 51, Butler 50, New York, N.Y.
March 8, 2014, Butler 71, SETON HALL 54, Indianapolis, IN
Jan. 29, 2014, Butler 64, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.

KenPom says: No. 30 Seton Hall 67, No. 29 Butler 63 (65%)

Projected Butler starters:

PG - Alex Barlow

SG - Kellen Dunham

G - Roosevelt Jones

F - Andrew Chrabascz

F - Kameron Woods

When: Tuesday, 7ET

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio: 570 AM

Opening line: Seton Hall -2