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Preview: No. 1 UConn men’s basketball vs. Butler | 8:30 p.m., FS1

The Huskies welcome a surging Bulldogs squad to the XL Center.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Butler Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 UConn men’s basketball looks to make it 11-straight wins as the Huskies welcome Thad Matt’a Butler Bulldogs to the XL Center on Tuesday. Butler blew a five-point halftime lead to the Huskies at Hinkle Fieldhouse when the two teams met earlier this season, but has been one of the hotter teams in the Big East since. In the Bulldogs’ seven games since the home loss to UConn, Butler has gone 5-2 with a double-overtime win over Villanova and impressive road wins against Marquette and Creighton. While the Huskies escaped an upset in Indianapolis last time, Matta’s Butler team is starting to round into form and playing some of its best basketball as the tournament time nears.


Radio: UConn Sports Network

Odds: UConn -14, over/under 147.5

KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 81, Butler 68 (87 percent win percentage)

Series History

UConn and Butler have played eight times, including in the 2011 national championship game, with the Huskies winning all eight matchups. UConn won the most recent matchup earlier this season in Indianapolis by a score of 88-81. There are only four programs (AIC, CCSU, Quinnipiac and Tulane) against which the Huskies have won more games and remain undefeated.

What to Watch For

Injury issues

Alex Karaban missed UConn win’s over St. John’s Saturday after suffering a sprained ankle in the Huskies’ win over Providence. Per Dan Hurley, Karaban was almost a full participant in practice but likely still will be shootaround/game-time decision as to whether he will suit up against the Bulldogs. While UConn got the job done without him, the bench depth took a hit with Hassan Diarra sliding into the starting lineup in his absence — the Huskies got just six total bench points from Samson Johnson, Solo Ball and Jaylin Stewart.

For Butler, star guard Posh Alexander missed the Bulldogs’ win at Creighton with a foot injury. His status for Tuesday night is uncertain, but if he is unable to go, it will be a major loss for Butler. Alexander is widely regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the conference and although he scored just three points against the Huskies last time, the St. John’s transfer terrorized UConn in previous years with the Red Storm.

Frontcourt foul trouble

Donovan Clingan has been plagued by foul trouble more than usual in the past two games, playing just 31 total minutes due to early whistles in both halves. Johnson has not been much better, racking up 11 fouls in his last three games. While Johnson has been trusted, albeit for lack of better options, to play with three or four fouls for extended stretches, the foul trouble from both bigs has exacerbated a depth issue in the front court made worse when Karaban is unavailable.

In a pinch, Stewart should be able to contribute as a small-ball center for stretches, but with Butler bigs Jahmyl Telfort, who dropped 16 on UConn earlier this year, 6-foot-10 center Jalen Thomas and 7-foot-1 Andre Screen coming to Hartford make that a less than ideal option. Clingan, who did not play against Butler earlier in the season, can negate the Bulldogs’ size down low for as long as he is able to stay out of foul trouble and on the court.

Can Castle keep cooking?

Stephon Castle is truly looking like the one-and-done NBA lottery pick so many scouts projected him to be as of late. Castle won Big East Freshman of the Week for a sixth time already this season after scoring 20 points against Providence, then 21 against St. John’s. Castle is becoming a matchup nightmare offensively, using his size and speed to get to the basket at will. Earlier in the season, defenders sagged off him on the perimeter and dared him to shoot, but Castle has made four of his last six threes and is now shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range in Big East play. This UConn offense already had weapons with Karaban, Newton and Cam Spencer leading the charge, but Castle’s emergence gives the Huskies a player who is near unstoppable in isolation and still has the vision to find open shooters or cutters to the hoop.