Time and Date: Saturday, February 10 @ Noon ET/11 a.m. CT
Records: Butler (17-8, 7-5 Big East) | Villanova (22-2, 9-2 Big East)
Rankings: Butler (#20 KenPom) | Villanova (#2 KenPom)
TV Channel: FOX
Watch Online: FOX Sports Go
Previous Match-up: On December 30, Butler outshot Villanova, beating them 101-93 in Indy.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Spread: Villanova is a 10-point favorite.
Over/Under: 155 points
Look, here at Big East Coast Bias, we appreciate “The Butler Way” as much as anybody. Still, nobody can deny that Butler’s recent dominance over Villanova is a mysterious phenomenon. Last season, Villanova lost three regular-season games – two of those losses were to Butler. This season, Villanova has accumulated just two losses – one of them to the pesky Bulldogs.
On Saturday, Villanova seeks revenge. An added ounce of urgency will be driving the Wildcats as they are also coming off a stunning loss to last-place St John’s. ‘Nova fans have absolutely no reason to hit the panic button, but a fourth-straight loss to Butler could cause some reasonable doubt about the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament preparedness.
Speaking of urgency, Butler appears to be safely in the NCAA Tournament for now. However, with many tough games remaining on the schedule, a road win against Villanova would be a massive help. Butler missed an opportunity (although I feel bad phrasing it that way because it was a truly valiant effort by the Dawgs) to get a big win against Xavier on Tuesday. Can Butler continue to master Jay Wright like no other team has been able to?
It will be interesting to see what kind of game is played on Saturday. The last meeting between Butler and Villanova was a good, old-fashioned shootout. Both teams have scored a lot in conference play, but Villanova’s loss to St John’s was mostly a product of poor offense. Every Wildcat shot below 50 percent except Collin Gillespie. With the rate Butler has been scoring at, Villanova will likely have to perform better offensively to hold them off.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Butler: Defense! Defense!
Butler beat Villanova last time by making 15 threes and scoring 101 points. While the years have taught us never to bet against Butler, it’s a safe bet their offensive production will not be quite as impressive this time around. Butler was able to stifle several conference opponents defensively before struggling to contain Xavier. If Butler can hold Villanova below 80 points they have a great chance to win.
Villanova: Control the game
The Wildcats needs to control this game. They need to take a lead early and stay on top. They need to control the pace and use the home crowd to their advantage. If you let teams hang around, they just might find a way to slip past you. Villanova as a 10-point favorite seems perhaps generous, but if Villanova wants to be assured of a win, it would do well to establish and keep a double-digit lead.