Butler takes on the defending champion Villanova Wildcats at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, December 4th at 6:30 ET. The game will be televised on FS1.
Nova has sat at the number one spot for the past five weeks. Butler has moves around in the teens and fell to #18 after last week’s loss to St. Johns and a victory against Providence College.
Despite their difference in rankings, the team stats for these two teams are eerily similar.
Butler averages 78 points per game, and allows 64 points per game. Nova averages 79 points per game and allows 62 points per game. Both teams shoot almost exactly 50% from the field, average 14 assists, three blocks and six steals per game.
Both teams are lead offensively by experienced scorers who are almost exactly the same height and weight (Josh Hart for Villanova and Kelan Martin for Butler). Both score around 20 points per game on roughly 40% three point percentage and do their fair share of rebounding as well.
This Villanova team is good. Not only are they the defending national champions but they have not lost a game yet this season. Despite this, they are not unbeatable.
Villanova has had their scares. Early in the season they were almost beaten by Purdue, in a game that the Wildcats ended up winning by three. Just last week they were almost upset in their Big East opener against unranked Depaul, in a game that they also won by just three.
I would argue the Butler has halso had a tougher schedule and has had bigger wins over the course of the season, such as then #8 Arizona or then #9 Indiana. Nova’s only top ten opponent was last game against Creighton where the Wildcats won by 10.
This being said I think both teams play a similar brand of Big East basketball, not too flashy, and not going to score 100 points. Head coach Jay Wright runs a tight ship and has a well oiled basketball machine at his disposal.
This should be fun.
Players to Watch-
Kelan Martin has been less than amazing in his last two games, but the Bulldogs will need a big night from him on Wednesday. Hopefully the junior forward comes through with another offensive performance like the one he displayed against Indiana in mid-December. He will also need to slow down Josh Hart on the other end of the floor.
Avery Woodson has been the Dawgs’ primary outside scoring option besides Martin this year. Look for the veteran shooter to make an offensive impact against Villanova.
Kamar Baldwin has broken out in big moments for Butler already this season, hitting a defining and game-winning jumper against Northwestern. Look for his offense to take a back seat to his defensive prowess while guarding Nova’s sophomore guard Jalen Brunson. The youngster will have to stay out of foul trouble.
Josh Hart is Nova’s leading scorer and overall team leader. He has dominated in big games in the past, such as his 37 point performance against Notre Dame. Look for the offense to run through the senior in this game as well.
Jalen Brunson is Nova’s second leading scorer and is a great sophomore guard. Butler has struggled to contain scoring guards in the past so look for Brunson to try to expose the Dawgs’ fatal flaw in this matchup.
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