10 must-watch Butler men’s basketball games this season

Sophomore guard Landon Moore transferred to Butler after playing one season at Saint Francis University. He has three seasons of eligibility remaining. Photo by Jacob Hedgcock

NICK ORR | SPORTS REPORTER | nporr@butler.edu 

The men’s basketball team features a whole slate of fresh faces compared to last season. The Bulldogs will look to bounce back from missing out on the NCAA Tournament during head coach Thad Matta’s first year back at Butler during the 2022-23 season. The team will play a load of premier opponents throughout the season, highlighted by these games. 

10) Butler Bulldogs vs. Providence Friars Feb. 10, 2 p.m., FS1 

The Providence Friars are going into their first season after the departure of long-time head coach Ed Cooley. The Friars lost three of their five leading scorers from a year ago, including Ed Croswell, Noah Locke and Jared Bynum. Devin Carter remains on the roster, as does Bryce Hopkins, who is one of the most dominant players in the Big East. Kim English comes over from George Mason to take over the coaching vacancy. English brought George Mason’s leading scorer, Josh Oduro, as well as Ticket Gaines and Justyn Fernandez to Providence. Four-star Garwey Dual highlights Providence’s recruiting class. Butler will look to beat Providence for the first time since 2020. 

9) Butler Bulldogs at Creighton Bluejays, Feb. 2, 9 p.m., FS1 

Head coach Greg McDermott returns a majority of the Elite Eight team from a year ago. The Bluejays have the top three scorers back in Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman. They did lose a couple of key pieces in Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma, but McDermott replaced some of that production with Utah State senior transfer Steven Ashworth, who averaged just over 16 points per game. The Bulldogs struggled against Creighton last season, so this is a chance for the team to find some success. Butler has not won in Omaha since 2015, and will look to stop that skid against a solid Creighton team. 

8) Butler Bulldogs vs. Villanova Wildcats, Jan. 27, 3 p.m., FS1 

Villanova is entering their second year under head coach Kyle Neptune and is looking to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are the preseason No. 22 team in the country, highlighted by a plethora of transfers. Hakim Hart, Lance Ware, Tyler Burton and TJ Bamba join Eric Dixon and Justin Moore to create a squad that Neptune can feel confident in. Neither Dixon nor Moore played against Butler a year ago, so the Bulldogs will look to keep their impact to a minimum. The Bulldogs won one of the two matchups between these teams a year ago and will look to continue that momentum against a ranked opponent. 

7) Butler Bulldogs vs. St. John’s Red Storm, Feb. 28, 8:30 p.m., CBSSN 

St. John’s is one of the most fascinating teams in college basketball heading into this season. Head coach Rick Pitino comes in from the Iona Gaels and has begun completely reshaping the roster. Leading scorer Joel Soriano is back for his senior season, alongside a whopping 10 players from outside the program who hope to help lead the Red Storm back to the NCAA Tournament. Top-50 player Simeon Wilcher and three-star Brady Dunlap are two key additions for Pitino’s squad. In the transfer portal, Pitino brought in three players from Iona: Daniss Jenkins, Cruz Davis and Sadiku Ayo. He also brought in Jordan Dingle, who averaged 23 points per game, among other transfers. St. John’s has high expectations for this season. The Bulldogs won one of the matchups between these two teams a year ago, and will look to knock off the Red Storm this season. 

6) Butler Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders, Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m., FS1 

Former North Texas head coach Grant McCasland takes over behind the Texas Tech bench after the departure of Mark Adams. McCasland did a lot of work in the transfer portal, bringing in six new players to the Red Raiders’ roster. Joe Touissant, Devan Cambridge, Darrion Williams, KyeRon Lindsay and Warren Washington are some names included in this transfer class. Texas Tech does return Pop Isaacs from a year ago, who averaged 11.5 points per game. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in the Big East-Big 12 Battle, winning the previous two games in the series. Butler has won both of the matchups between these teams in history, with the latest victory coming in 2016. The team has a chance to pick up a win over a Power Five opponent in one of the best out-of-conference games this season. 

5) Butler Bulldogs vs. Xavier Musketeers, March 6, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN 

The Bulldogs’ biggest rival comes into the 2023 season with a fresh looking roster. The Musketeers lost four of their five highest scorers, including Souley Boum and Jack Nunge. While Zach Freemantle is still on the roster, he underwent offseason foot surgery and the team has yet to provide a timeline for his return. To account for this, head coach Sean Miller brought in top-100 player Trey Green, as well as four-star Reid Ducharme and Dailyn Swain onto the roster. Miller also went into the transfer portal and picked up Abou Ousmane, Quincy Olivari and Dayvion McKnight. There will be plenty of new faces on both teams in this edition of the rivalry, but the intensity is sure to be the same as always. The Bulldogs upset the Musketeers at Hinkle last year and will look to try and replicate that magic in the final game of the regular season. 

4) Butler Bulldogs at Marquette Golden Eagles, Jan. 10, 9 p.m., CBSSN 

The Golden Eagles come into the 2023 season as the highest ranked Big East team in their third year under head coach Shaka Smart. Marquette lost Olivier-Maxence Prosper, but returned much of their production from a year ago, including 2022 Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek. Coach Smart also brought in four-star recruits Tre Norman and Zaide Lowery. The Bulldogs have not beaten the Golden Eagles on the road since the 2018 season. They will look to end that streak and pick up a quality win. 

3) Butler Bulldogs vs. Florida Atlantic Owls, Nov. 23, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2 

The Bulldogs will head to Orlando for the ESPN Events Invitational and will take on Florida Atlantic in the first round. FAU was one of the Cinderella teams of the tournament last year, making it all the way to the Final Four as a nine-seed. Head coach Dusty May returns seven of the eight highest scorers on that Final Four roster. Three-star prospects Jakel Powell and Devin Vanterpool also join May for the 2023 season. This game gives Butler a high quality, out-of-conference opponent early in the season to test where the Bulldogs are. 

2) Butler Bulldogs at UConn Huskies, Jan. 5, 6:30 p.m., FS1 

The Huskies are coming off of a National Championship victory in April, and there is renewed optimism that they can reach that point again. The Huskies lost three of their top five scorers, including dominant big-man Adama Sanogo, but they did return Donovan Clingan. Clingan will serve as Sanogo’s replacement after a great first year in Storrs. Head coach Dan Hurley has also replaced a lot of talent through recruiting. UConn brought in top-10 player Stephon Castle, as well as four stars Solomon Ball, Jaylin Stewart, Jayden Ross and Youssouf Singare. Hurley also picked up Cam Spencer in the transfer portal. The Rutgers transfer averaged just over 13 points per game. Butler has not played against a defending National Championship team since 2018. This is an opportunity for the team to play against the best of the best. The Huskies are the preseason No. 6 team in the country and will be one of the toughest Big East challenges for the Bulldogs. 

1) Butler Bulldogs at Michigan State Spartans, Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m., FS1 

Michigan State is one of the best teams in the country and is ranked as preseason No. 4. head coach Tom Izzo returns a large portion of his team from last year, which made it to the Sweet 16. Izzo also brought in one of the best recruiting classes in America, highlighted by five-star center Xavier Booker. Booker was the No. 11 ranked player in the 2023 class and joins fellow top-100 recruits Jeremy Fears and Coen Carr on the Spartans’ roster. Butler is 1-1 against Michigan State. The Spartans are one of the premier teams in college basketball, and this game will prove to be a good test to see where Butler stands against the top competition. 


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