No. 15 Butler is one of two ranked teams in the Atlantic 10 - along with No. 24 Virginia Commonwealth - but neither team has been able to figure out Saint Louis. The Bulldogs will take one final shot at the conference leaders Friday when they host the Billikens. Saint Louis, which holds a half-game lead over the Bulldogs and Rams, began the conference season 1-2 but has been the best team in the league since.
Much like the Billikens' first meeting against Butler - a 75-58 home victory on Jan. 31 - Saint Louis used stifling defense to defeat VCU on Tuesday and won its eighth straight game, improving to 2-0 against the more highly regarded schools in the Atlantic 10. The Bulldogs, who are 5-1 since their loss to the Billikens, are 13-1 at Hinkle Fieldhouse and figure to improve on their dreadful 23-turnover performance in the first meeting.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (20-5, 9-2 Atlantic 10): Following the loss to the Billikens in January, Butler coach Brad Stevens said, "It was an absolute joy to watch one team play. The problem was, it wasn't the team I coached." St. Louis enjoys the conference's stingiest scoring defense (57.9) and ranks second in the A-10 with 11.4 turnovers per game. The Billikens held VCU's conference-leading offense 16 points below its season average and became only the second team this season to commit fewer than 10 turnovers against the Rams' vaunted pressure defense. The eight miscues against VCU marked the ninth time this season Saint Louis turned in a single-digit turnover effort.
ABOUT BUTLER (22-5, 9-3): Rotnei Clarke continued his scoring spree in Tuesday's win and is averaging 18.9 points since his return from a neck injury eight games ago, leading his team in scoring each time. The Bulldogs are 14-0 when Khyle Marshall (9.9 points) scores in double figures, but the junior forward endured one of the worst performances of his career in the first meeting, scoring two points in 10 minutes before fouling out. Butler has outrebounded 10 of its last 11 opponents. Stevens is two wins shy of tying Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon (2004-09) for the most wins by a coach in his first six seasons in Division I history.
1. Saint Louis is 3-1 against Top 25 competition, but has never defeated four ranked opponents in the same season.
2. Butler is 82-12 at Hinkle Fieldhouse under Stevens.
3. All eight of the victories during the Billikens' winning streak are by double digits - a first in their 97-year history.
PREDICTION: Saint Louis 68, Butler 66