New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-seeded Butler Bulldogs will face a familiar foe to begin their postseason, as they take on the sixth-seeded Xavier Musketeers in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
This will be the 53rd meeting in history between these two programs. The teams split their regular-season meetings with the home team winning in each instance by double digits. The winner of this game will advance to face either Creighton or Georgetown in Friday's semifinals.
The Bulldogs enter the week's action ranked 22nd in the national polls after finishing the regular season with a 22-9 overall record. Butler held off Providence in its regular-season finale, marking its third victory in the last four games for coach Chris Holtmann's team, which went 2-2 at neutral sites during the regular season. The Bulldogs lead the Big East in scoring defense with an allowance of 61.0 ppg, and they rank sixth in the 10-team league offensively with 69.8 ppg.
Xavier snapped a two-game losing streak just before the postseason with a 74-73 victory at Creighton. With the win, the Musketeers not only spoiled the Bluejays' senior night, but also rose to a 9-9 league record. Xavier has finished with a .500 record or better in conference play a national-leading 33 years in a row. Coach Chris Mack's team went 1-1 last season in its inaugural appearance in the Big East Tournament. The Musketeers certainly have the offensive prowess to make a run, as they lead the conference in field goal percentage (.478), free-throw percentage (.735) and assists (16.9).
The Bulldogs are not a group you can leave open out on the perimeter, as they convert 36.1 percent from 3-point range as a team. All-Big East guard Kellen Dunham has spearheaded the charge for Butler, as he nets 16.6 ppg while draining 42.4 percent of his tries from beyond the arc. His companion in the backcourt, Alex Barlow, is not nearly as dangerous as a scorer, but he ranks second in the Big East and 18th nationally in steals (2.2 spg). Roosevelt Jones does a little bit of everything for Butler, averaging 12.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per tilt. Andrew Chrabascz is also in double figures with 10.9 ppg. Chrabascz scored a team-high 19 points in the Bulldogs' win over Xavier earlier this season, but did not play in the loss to the Musketeers.
Xavier had a massive piece to replace last offseason when star point guard Semaj Christon left school early to pursue a professional career. Mack quickly found a new source of scoring in freshman Trevon Bluiett, who was a unanimous selection to the Big East All-Rookie Team with a team-high average of 12.2 ppg to go with 4.5 rebounds per tilt. Senior center Matt Stainbrook, a 62-percent shooter from the floor, is next in line with 12.0 points and a team-best 6.8 boards per tilt. Stainbrook is the reigning Big East Player of the Week after posting a career-best 26 points against the Bluejays. Myles Davis, who is a 40-percent shooter from the perimeter, rounds out the double-digit scorers for XU with 11.0 ppg.