clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Villanova Basketball vs. Butler Preview

The ‘Cats will face another top 25 team on the road on Wednesday night.

NCAA Basketball: Vermont at Butler Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The undefeated Villanova Wildcats will make the trek to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday night to take on the 12-2 Butler Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have four Kenpom top 50 wins, with the victories coming against Northwestern, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Indiana. Their two losses have come on the road, but against two mediocre teams, Indiana St. and St. John’s.

For Villanova, it doesn’t get any easier after taking down Creighton in Omaha. CenturyLink Center is a very tough place to play, but Hinkle is just as difficult. The Wildcats sit at 14-0 and number one in the country for a fifth straight week. The ‘Cats look to expand both the best start, and longest winning streak in the program’s history.

Here’s three things to watch for on Wednesday night.

Recent history says this will be a close one

Since Butler joined the Big East, Villanova has played in Hinkle Fieldhouse three times, and each time it has been a very close game. The Wildcats opened the new Big East on New Years Eve in 2013 with a trip to Butler and it took overtime for the the ‘Cats to squeeze out a three point victory. The following year, Villanova made it out of Hinkle with a win again by three points, thanks to a Darrun Hilliard three in the final seconds.

Last season, the ‘Cats had their biggest margin of victory at Hinkle, five. The Bulldogs are number 16 in Kenpom’s rankings, meaning this will be the best Butler team ‘Nova has seen yet. A win would make it two consecutive road victories against top 25 teams, and the ‘Cats could make a case for having one one of the best resumes in the country.

Another high scoring game could be in the works

According to Kenpom, Butler is converting on 56.2% of their two pointers thus far, that’s good for 13th in the country. Additionally, they’re making 39.4% of their shots from behind the arc, good for 36th in the country. Senior Andrew Chrabascz leads the Bulldogs from three point land, he’s currently hit 46.7% of his three’s and is averaging 11.9 points per game.

The Bulldogs offense is initiated by 5’11” Tyler Lewis. The senior point guard is averaging 7.8 points per game, and 4.8 assists per game. Junior Kelan Martin is Butler’s leading scorer, averaging 18.1 points a game. Also, he grabs 5.1 rebounds a game, and knocks down 84.1 % of his free throws. Overall, Butler is 15th in the country in offensive adjusted efficiency.

The ‘Cats are number 2 in offensive adjusted efficiency and are third in the country from inside the arc, hitting 60.1% of their two’s. Forward Mikal Bridges has one of the best two point percentages in the country at 78.3%. Similar to the Creighton game, this contest could come down to who gets the extra stop when it matters most, which bodes well for Villanova.

A slow tempo

As seen on Saturday at Creighton, Villanova is best with a slower tempo. When the Bluejays were pushing the ball in the first 10 minutes, it allowed Creighton to run out to a 10 point lead. The ‘Cats slowed the game down and were able to come out with a win. Butler, however, is similar to the ‘Cats and plays at a relatively slow pace.

Since both teams are at their best when the game is slower, possessions will need to be coveted. The ‘Cats have had double digit turnover the last five games, including 15 against Creighton. If Villanova can hold onto the ball and keep turnovers at a minimum, their offense can generate the points needed to walk out of Hinkle with a win.