Xavier prepares for a tough road test as conference action at the Hinkle Fieldhouse.
This will be the 46th meeting between Xavier and Butler. The Musketeers hold a 29-16 advantage in the series. Xavier outlasted the Bulldogs 51-49 in last year's meeting at the Cintas Center.
Xavier is 6-0 after winning close games against Vanderbilt and Purdue in its last two outings. Chris Mack's team is ranked eighth, which is just one spot shy of the school record. The Musketeers are the favorites in the Atlantic 10 after winning the previous five regular season championships. Xavier is scoring 74 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 43 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Musketeers have held opponents to 62.5 points per game and 36.9 percent shooting from the floor.
The Musketeers have one of, if not the best backcourt in the nation. Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons have the talent, heart, and desire to compete with anyone. Holloway leads the team with 18 points and five assists per outing. The shifty point guard has been hot lately as he scored 24 against Vanderbilt before posting 21 on Purdue. Lyons is equally as threatening from the field. The 6-1 guard has been finding a way to torture opponents all season. Lyons is one of the more dangerous shooters in the nation as he is knocking down 45.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc to score 17.3 points per game.
Butler is 4-4 after a rare loss at home to Valparaiso. The Bulldogs have won all the games they were expected to with the exception of their season opening defeat to Evansville. Brad Stevens's team has struggled against top competition as it lost by double-digit margins to Louisville and Indiana earlier this year. Butler is scoring 67.5 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting from the field.
The Bulldogs are not the same team that went to the NCAA Championship in 2010-2011. Stevens always seems to manage to get the most of his players and has some interesting prospects to take over the roles that Matt Howard, Sam Mack, and Gordon Hayward have vacated over the previous two seasons. Chrishawn Hopkins is an early favorite to be the new leader of the Bulldogs. The sophomore guard leads the team this season with 12.3 points per game but has struggled shooting just 36 percent from the field. Andrew Smith, a key contributor on last season's team, is scoring 10.4 points per game while pulling down a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.