Two weeks into the season, Butler and St. Francis (Pa.) already have something unfortunate in common as they enter Thursday’s non-conference clash at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
According to Ken Pomeroy’s analytics, the Bulldogs (1-1) and the visiting Red Flash (1-2) rank among the unluckiest teams in the country. Butler ranks 353rd in Pomeroy’s “Luck” calculation while St. Francis sits 359th out of the 363 teams in Division I.
In Pomeroy’s analytics-centered world, luck is defined as “a measure of the deviation between a team’s actual winning percentage and what one would expect from its game-by-game efficiencies.”
To put it into basketball terms, both teams enter Thursday’s game smarting from close losses.
On Monday, Butler dropped a 68-62 decision at Penn State — despite a rally that chopped a 16-point deficit to four — while St. Francis suffered an 80-77 home loss at Cornell as the Red Flash rallied from a late 13-point deficit.
“We took a heck of a punch (Monday) night, came back and actually took the lead,” Butler coach Thad Matta said after the Penn State game. “We weren’t able to sustain it, but there’s something we can build on.”
“The one thing about these guys is they are not going to hang their heads,” said veteran St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel. “They are going to compete and battle.”
How will these gutsy teams hope to turn their luck around? In Butler’s case, its offensive issues might get solved by facing a St. Francis defense that ranks 334th according to Pomeroy (allowing 107.7 points per 100 possessions).
However, St. Francis’ stats don’t explain how this is happening. The Red Flash’s opponents are shooting 43.6 percent from the field, 17.9 percent from 3-point range and 63.3 percent at the line. Considering Butler is hitting just 19.1 percent of its 3-pointers at this early stage (9 of 47), perhaps the Bulldogs will focus on finding Manny Bates inside.
The 6-foot-10 North Carolina State transfer leads Butler with 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Bates will face a similarly productive foe in 6-10 St. Francis junior Josh Cohen, who averages 18.7 points and 7.0 rebounds.
–Field Level Media