(PHILADELPHIA, PA) – The Butler Bulldogs (16-7) are in Philly to visit the #1 Villanova Wildcats (22-2) today for a noon showdown at the Wells Fargo Center. Butler is 7-5 (5th) in Big East play while Villanova is 9-2 (2nd).
Projected Starting Lineups
- G Aaron Thompson, G Kamar Baldwin, G Paul Jorgensen, F Kelan Martin, F Tyler Wideman
- G Mikal Bridges, G Donte Divincenzo, G Jalen Brunson, F Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, F Omari Spellman
- No major injuries going into this game
- F Eric Paschall is out indefinitely with a concussion
- G Phil Booth is our indefinitely with a hand injury
- In the Big East, the Bulldogs sit directly in the middle of the pack (7-5, 5th place)
- 6-1 against unranked conference opponents, 1-4 against ranked conference opponents
- Longest winning streak since conference play began (4W) snapped in loss to Xavier
- Last time these teams met, Butler defeated Villanova 101-93 at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 30, 2017
- Leaders: Martin 24 pts. / Baldwin 9 reb. / Baldwin 7 ast.
- Butler is looking to bounce back after loss to Xavier last game
- After this, the Dawgs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for their final 3 home games of the season
- Kelan Martin still leads the Big East in points per game during conference play with 22.9
- Martin is averaging 19.3 ppg in his last four games against Villanova
- The Wildcats are chasing the top spot in the Big East (9-2, 2nd place)
- Half a game behind 1st place Xavier
- Last time these teams met, Villanova fell to Butler 101-93 at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 30, 2017
- Leaders: Brunson 31 pts. / Spellman 9 reb. / Brunson 5 ast.
- Villanova is also coming off a loss to St. John’s in their last game
- After facing Butler, Nova will embark on a 2-game road trip to visit Providence and #5 Xavier
Last 5 Games
Butler (4-1), Streak: 1L
- (Sat. 1/20) @ DePaul 79-67 W
- (Sat. 1/27) vs. St. John’s 70-45 W
- (Tue. 1/30) @ Marquette 92-72 W
- (Sat. 2/3) vs. DePaul 80-57 W
- (Tue. 2/6) vs. #5 Xavier 98-93 L (OT)
Villanova (4-1), Streak: 1L
- (Tue. 1/23) vs. Providence 89-69 W
- (Sun. 1/28) @ Marquette 85-82 W
- (Thu. 2/1) vs. Creighton 98-78 W
- (Sun. 2/4) vs. Seton Hall 92-76 W
- (Wed. 2/7) vs. St. John’s 79-75 L
ESPN PickCenter favors Villanova by 10.0 points.
Keys to Victory
Shoot the lights out: There’s no doubt that Butler needed every bit of their 60.0% shooting performance (and 68.2% from 3) to secure the victory last time they faced #1 Villanova. Little defense was played in a game where both teams combined for 194 points…in college…without overtime. Believe it or not, Villanova played most of the defense, forcing 13 turnovers out of Butler while giving up just 4. But the ball just wouldn’t stop going in the hoop. Martin led the way with 24 points, followed by Jorgensen’s 23, Baldwin’s 19, Sean McDermott’s 10, Nate Fowler’s 8 and Henry Baddley’s 8 (both shot 100%). Tyler Wideman (6) and Aaron Thompson (3) were the other Bulldogs who scored, but there were only so many touches and shots to go around. The chances of Butler replicating this particular shooting display are staggeringly low, but shooting anywhere above 50% as a team while playing better defense than last time would, in theory, give the Dawgs a solid chance to win.
Pressure the inexperienced players: Injuries sidelined veterans Paschall and Booth this time around, and the Dawgs need to see if they can exploit the inexperience of the Wildcats who are filling in. Divincenzo started for Nova last game and coughed up 4 turnovers while shooting just 5-of-14 from the floor. Cosby-Roundtree also started, but accomplished next to nothing with just 2 points and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes against St. John’s. Scoring 75 points, an abnormal low, the Nova offense appeared to really miss Paschall and Booth’s scoring (10.1 and 11.6 ppg respectively), as well as their versatility. And it’s not as though St. John’s has been particularly great this year. The Red Storm are 12-13, 1-11 in conference play. If Butler can get out there and play some good defense, locking down primary threats like Brunson (19.8 ppg) and Bridges (16.6 ppg), then that will put more pressure on the usual lower role Wildcats to score. Last time these teams met though, Brunson and Bridges combined for 52 points, so the Bulldogs will have to figure out a better solution for guarding them. Still, a Butler win here may not be as unlikely as it seems.
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