Time and Date: Tuesday, January 21 @ 7:00 pm ET
Records: Butler (15-3) | Villanova (14-3)
Rankings: Butler (#7 NET) | Seton Hall (#17 NET)
TV Channel: CBSSN
ODDS & ENDS via OddsShark
Favorite: Villanova (-4)
After a two-loss week, the Butler Bulldogs travel to Villanova where they look to bounce back at the Big East’s toughest road venue. The Wildcats, who are 26-1 in conference home games since the Big East re-alignment, hope to continue Butler’s woes and extend their own four-game winning streak.
Butler’s hot start to the season is starting to wane as the Bulldogs lost a close one to Seton Hall on Wednesday before getting dominated by DePaul in Chicago on Satuday. The Dawgs’ vaunted defense was anything but stingy in those two games, allowing both opponents to come within a basket of 80 points. If they were looking for an easy game to get back on track, they won’t find it at the Pavilion.
Villanova, meanwhile, defeated those same DePaul Blue Demons last week and also defeated UConn, giving the Huskies a taste of what awaits them in Big East play when they re-join the conference next year. Jay Wright’s team has climbed as high as #9 in the AP rankings and #17 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.
Villanova is second in the conference behind the undefeated Seton Hall Pirates, and Butler is only one loss behind the Wildcats. A win for the Bulldogs could quickly propel them back into the Big East championship conversation, whereas a Villanova win would solidify the Wildcats’ spot in the top tier.
The key in this one will be Butler’s ability or inability to defend Villanova. The Bulldogs have relied on their defensive strength all season, and proved last weak that they have a hard time winning without it. If Coach Jordan’s team is lackadaisical on the defensive end in this one, Saddiq Bey and Jermaine Samuels could have a field day. But if Butler can control the tempo and make things hard on the Wildcats’ offense early, they might stand a chance of accomplishing the near-impossible feat of upending Villanova in Philadelphia.