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The Butler men’s basketball Big East conference schedule was released last week. College basketball is less than two months away. Here are my top 5 match-ups for this season.
5) University of Cincinnati on Dec. 10
Growing up, I remember the saying “the enemy of our enemy is our friend.” That doesn’t apply to Cincinnati. They are still not happy about Roosevelt Jones’s go-ahead layup with less than a second left last year. The Bearcats want revenge. Cincinnati returns leading scorer Tre Scott from last year’s NCAA tournament team. This is Butler’s first true home test this year. One thing is for sure: you will need a study break before finals. Make sure you head to Hinkle Fieldhouse before cramming for an exam.
4) Seton Hall University on March 4
No, there’s no rivalry factor here, just the defending Big East Tournament champions. Though this is the second game against the Pirates this season, Butler wants to win this game to build momentum heading to the Big East tournament. Seton Hall lost second round draft pick Isaiah Whitehead to the Utah Jazz, but they return with forward Angel Delgado, guard Khadeen Carrington and Indy’s own Eron Gordon, who turned down an offer from Butler last year.
3) Indiana University on Dec. 17
Butler plays the role of little brother against last year’s Big Ten regular season champion. Indiana lost fan favorite Yogi Ferrell in the offseason, but they return promising forward Collin Hartman and guard James Blackmon Jr. This game is a great showcase of local talent, with Joey Brunk and Sean McDermott getting to face the Hoosiers for the first time. A ticket to this game at Bankers Life is worth the cost, not to mention watching Purdue and Notre Dame renew their rivalry in the early game.
2) Xavier University on Jan. 14
I cannot put into words how excited I am for this game. Both bragging rights and Twitter trash talk are on the line. The Musketeers dominated both games last year, drilling the Bulldogs in Hinkle 74-57. Xavier returns most of their stars from last season: sophomore Edmond Sumner, junior Trevon Bluiett, senior Myles Davis and junior J.P. Macura. Butler will need to find a way to beat their rival to finish near the top of the conference standings.
1) Villanova University on Jan. 4
How can you not put the Xavier game at No. 1? Yes, I know Villanova is not a rivalry, but it’s not every year your team faces the reigning national champions. Butler kept both of their games close against the Wildcats last year, losing by five at home and ten away at The Pavilion. Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart return to Jay Wright’s championship squad. The Wildcats graduated point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, while Daniel Ochefu left for the NBA. The Bulldogs are looking for their first win against Villanova since joining the Big East in 2013.
1) Las Vegas Invitational (Vanderbilt and Arizona/Santa Clara) on Nov. 24-25
Vegas baby! A good reason to watch basketball and not the Lions and Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
2) Northwestern University on Nov. 16
Butler’s first appearance in the Gavitt Tipoff Games matches them up against the Wildcats.
3) Providence University on Jan. 1
Butler’s first home conference game welcomes in Rodney Bullock and the Friars.
4) Xavier University on Feb. 26
Beating Xavier at home is hard. Beating them at their place? Even harder.