Former mid-major darlings Creighton and Butler are on opposite ends of the spectrum in their first Big East seasons.
The No. 20 Bluejays have a share of the conference lead and are riding a nine-game win streak Tuesday night as they host a Bulldogs team that owns the Big East's worst mark.These programs have enjoyed varying degrees of success in smaller conferences and now will be Big East rivals as they prepare for their first meeting since 1974-75.Creighton (14-2, 4-0) has enjoyed a smoother transition, and is tied with No. 6 Villanova for the conference lead. Butler (10-6, 0-4) is in sole possession of last place, with all three home Big East defeats going past regulation."Butler's probably the best 0-4 team there is anywhere in their conference," Bluejays star Doug McDermott said. "It's been a blast so far but we can't dwell on this. We've done this before, in the Missouri Valley, get off to good starts. We can't allow ourselves to get complacent."McDermott is second in the nation with 25.0 points per game. He scored 35 in Sunday's 95-89 win over Xavier despite playing with a sprained left shoulder."It felt a lot better when I woke up this morning," McDermott said. "I thought that was a good sign. I really didn't notice it in shootaround, I really didn't think about it."The senior forward believes he will be closer to 100 percent Tuesday -- a scary thought for the Bulldogs."I played well enough with it being a little sore," McDermott said. "I'll ice it up here and it should be even better by Butler."Creighton leads the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.6 percent. The Bluejays made 14 of 28 attempts Sunday, with Ethan Wragge hitting 5 of 10, McDermott sinking four and Jahenns Manigat three.The 6-foot-7 Wragge has taken advantage of the defensive attention on McDermott by staying on the perimeter, with 124 of his 130 shots coming from beyond the arc."We'll see what Butler does and that'll open up the outside, I hope," Wragge said.Junior guard Avery Dingman made his first career start in place of Grant Gibbs, who is out at least four weeks after dislocating his right kneecap.Butler's frustrations continued with Saturday's 70-67 overtime home loss to Georgetown. The Bulldogs lost 99-94 in double-overtime two days earlier to DePaul and also fell 76-73 in overtime to then-No. 11 Villanova in their Big East opener Dec. 31.The latest defeat was particularly painful since Butler rallied from a nine-point deficit with 6:55 left in the second half to take a three-point lead only to allow a tying 3-pointer by Markel Starks with 14 seconds to go."I give Georgetown a lot of credit, they're a very good basketball team," coach Brandon Miller told Butler's official website. "Starks made a very good shot at the end of the game to tie the game and send it to overtime. That's what older guys do, that's what tough guys do."Top scorer Kellen Dunham is third in the conference with 18.8 points per game. He has combined for 51 points in his last two games despite shooting 15 of 44 (34.1 percent).