The Villanova Wildcats return to the Pavilion Wednesday night to host the Butler Bulldogs after sweeping a three game road trip that put a strangle hold on the rest of the Big East. With only three games left in the regular season for the ‘Cats, they hold a three game lead over Butler in the conference standings, having already clinched at least a share of the title.
A win Wednesday night would give the Wildcats their fourth consecutive outright Big East championship, and they would be the first team to ever do so in the history of the Big East. They face a Butler team that is 21-6 overall, and 10-5 in the Big East.
Here are three things to watch for on Wednesday.
The ‘Cats can get revenge
Butler took down ‘Nova 66-58 back on January 4th to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season. This is Villanova’s first time facing the Bulldogs since then and these ‘Cats, especially the seniors, are awful good at handing out revenge. The class of 2017 has only lost 15 times in a Villanova uniform, but they’ve beaten every team they’ve played, except two.
Those two would be UCONN and North Carolina State, who they lost to in the NCAA tournament and haven’t seen since then. The seniors have beaten Butler in past seasons, but not yet this year. At the Pavilion, in their next to last home game, the seniors should be ready to hand out more revenge.
Can the ‘Cats figure out Butler’s defense?
In that January 4th loss Villanova scored only 58 points, their lowest output of the season. Not only was that the fewest pure points, it was the only time this season ‘Nova has scored less than one point per possession, the 58 points came in 59 possessions. Even against Virginia's number one ranked defense, the ‘Cats scored 61 points in 55 possessions.
What makes it even weirder is that Butler isn’t a great defensive team, they’re 48th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to kenpom.com. While they’re certainly no slouch, ‘Nova has played teams with better defenses and won. Being at home and having already seen Butler once should allow for a better game on the offensive side of the ball for Villanova.
Kelan Martin is the go-to guy
Junior forward Kelan Martin leads Butler with 15.5 points per game, and 5.7 rebounds per game. He also chips in 1.1 assists per game while shooting 33.3% from deep. When Butler beat Villanova in January, Martin had 12 points and six rebounds.
Martin uses over 28% of the Bulldogs possessions, meaning 28% of the time when he is on the court, he either makes a shot, misses a shot that is rebounded by the defense, or turns the ball over. The 28% is far and away the highest of all Butler players, with Kethan Savage being the next closest, with 21.9%.