It has been a solid start to conference play for the #11 Villanova Wildcats. 'Nova went 10-2 in nonconference play with losses only to Oklahoma and Virginia, both who are solid teams in their own right. Losing to those teams is not something to be ashamed of, as those two teams are two of the top 10 teams in the country (for now). Back to 'Nova, they started off conference play 3-0 with wins over Xavier, Creighton and Seton Hall, all double digit wins for the Wildcats. This now puts Villanova at 13-2 and first in the BIG EAST standings. This is another big test for Villanova as they face another ranked opponent in the Butler Bulldogs.
While Villanova have gotten off to a great start in conference play, the same can't be said about Butler. Right now, the Bulldogs are 1-2 in conference play with losses to Providence and Xavier. But they rebounded with a 77-72 win over DePaul to get their first BIG EAST win of the season. The rough start puts Butler at 7th in the BIG EAST. For a team that scores as well as Butler does, it was surprising to see them struggle to score in the first couple games. Some credit should be given to the good defenses they have played, but Butler has play makers on the ball that are good enough to over come that. This will be a hill to climb for Butler in this game.
This will be a top match in the BIG EAST as the madness is just beginning.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WFNI ESPN 1070/ The Fan 93.5 FM (Butler) || WTEL 610 AM (Villanova)
Stream: Streaming is available for this telecast via Fox Sports Go (Where available)
Odds: Villanova opened as a three-point favorite, but that has jumped to four points in most places.
Record ATS: Villanova 9-5 || Butler 7-8
3 Things to Watch
1. Can Butler score anymore?
This will be another tough test for the Butler offense as they face a Villanova defense that is top 10 in the nation, giving up just 60.5 points per game. The stats show that the Butler offense has the upper hand in this game as they average 86.5 points per game, good for 8th in the country, but that's not the case. Butler has failed to score over 80 points in the last three games, and even in their win over DePaul, they only scored 77 points. This could be another tough game to watch Butler on the offensive end.
2. Ball movement
Both teams are very similar stats wise when it comes to moving the ball and assists. Villanova averages around 16.7 a game, good for 36th in the country, with point guard Ryan Arcidiacano leading the way with around 4.5 per game. Butler isn't too bad at moving the ball either, as they average around 16.3 assists per game, good for 48th in the country, while Mr.Do-It-All Roosevelt Jones leads the team with an average of 4.9 per game. Whoever can move the ball the best will have an easier time winning this game. Both offenses need good ball movement.
3. Can Kellen Dunham keep shooting?
With 'Nova's defense as good as they are, Butler has the opportunity to neutralize them with good shooting. It will all come down to Kellen Dunham, who leads the Bulldogs by scoring an average of 15.5 points per game. He got off to a great start against DePaul and will need to have a good game against 'Nova if Butler wants a chance.