The Butler Bulldogs are back home in Indianapolis, Ind. to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the Hinkle Fieldhouse. Below is the Butler vs. Tennessee prediction and game preview.
Butler vs. Tennessee Game Preview
Date: Saturday, Dec. 12
Game Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
Why You Need To Care
Head coach Chris Holtmann has to be content with a 7-1 start, right? Butler may have dropped a neutral-site matchup against the Miami Hurricanes, 85-75, but it’s been nothing but a winning brand of basketball outside of that one bad game.
The Bulldogs have won by an average of 24.4 points, and they’ve been holding their opponents to 71.3 per game. Their last regular-season home loss was March 3 against Georgetown.
It’ll be a tall task for Tennessee to take down Butler on the road — especially given the Volunteers’ 4-3 record. Georgia Tech, George Washington and Nebraska have all claimed wins against Tennessee this season.
A win against the Bulldogs could dramatically boost the confidence in the Vols’ locker room.
Why Butler Will Win
Holtmann has to unleash Kellen Dunham and just let the dog eat. Dunham is shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and 43.6 percent from three. He has the ability to take over a game offensively. He may not need to do so against a Vols team allowing 74.3 points per game, but he’ll definitely be looking for his shot early on to establish a rhythm. Tennessee has allowed 113 offensive rebounds, so it’ll be important for Roosevelt Jones, Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman to crash the offensive glass. The trio combines for 19.5 rebounds per game, so they’ll have to come up big on the boards.
Why Tennessee Will Win
The Vols can’t get caught in trying to stop Dunham. They can only hope to contain him. But Tennessee can’t let the Bulldogs get to the line. Butler has already taken 209 free throw attempts this season, and the last thing the Vols need to do is to pick up cheap fouls and give up free points. Kevin Punter is posting 22.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, so he’ll have to make plays with the basketball in his hands. If his assist-turnover ratio is poor, it’ll be a rough game. Punter needs help from Armani Moore, who will have to attack the rim and grab a few rebounds in the process.
What’s Going To Happen?
This is Butler’s game to lose. Dunham will pick and choose his spots, but essentially, he’ll have whatever he wants. Tennessee allows its opponents to shoot 40.4 percent from the field, and Dunham will exploit that. Punter and Moore won’t score enough to do any real damage, and the Bulldogs will pull away in the second half. Look for Martin to have a good game as a secondary scorer, but he’ll make just as many plays for his teammates as he will creating his own shot.
Butler vs. Tennessee Prediction
Line: Butler -12.5