Butler travels to Villanova to take on the Big East best Wildcats for the second time this season. A Butler win means another upset for the Dawgs. A Nova win means that they clinch the regular season Big East championship.
In their last meeting, Butler came up with a massive win against the defending champs and, at the time, the #1 team in the country in Hinkle Fieldhouse. This was and still is the Dawgs’ biggest win of the season.
In that game, Butler played their brand of basketball. The Bulldogs had four players in double figures (all their usual offensive threats), took care of the ball (only giving up eight turnovers), outrebounded the Wildcats, and shot a perfect 15/15 from the foul line. Butler will have to be on their A-game yet again if they want this road win.
Andrew Chrabascz and Kethan Savage both scored 13 in their last game against Villanova, almost exclusively scoring in the paint (Chrabascz made the duo’s only three pointer). Savage was getting to the rim and drawing fouls, making all five of his free throw attempts.
That game was also during a time that Kelan Martin was still in the starting lineup. While he scored an unimpressive 12 points, his size, rebounding, and defensive presence (especially when matched up against Villanova Star Josh Hart) was much needed.
For the Wildcats, Hart was quiet in that loss. The Dawgs held the star scorer to just 13 points on 3/11 shooting. Butler will look to contain Hart once again in their second matchup.
Villanova has seen their young point guard Jalen Brunson emerge as yet another star this season. The sophomore averaged nearly 15 points per game, can shoot from deep and finishes seemingly everything in the paint. Against Butler, Brunson scored an impressive 23 points and contributed on the defensive end with a couple of steals as well.
Because Butler struggles to stop scoring guards, Brunson will most likely have another career game. The key lies in eliminating Nova’s other offensive weapons, and playing solid team defense to contain Brunson as much as possible.
Butler has been on a hot streak lately, blowing out their last two opponents at home. Can Butler pull off another remarkable upset? Or will they fold to Villanova’s solid team, just as the last seven teams that faced the Wildcats have.
Players to Watch-
Kamar Baldwin is likely to play a ton of minutes in this game, as he is necessary for stopping the Wildcats on the defensive end. The freshman is currently fourth in the Big East in steals per game, and seems to be the team’s only hope in stopping Jalen Brunson. Oh yeah, he also shoots 49% from the field and scores 10 points per game. The dude can play.
Kelan martin has been a bit of a question mark recently. He has been coming off of the bench as of late, but Butler could definitely use his experience, size and defensive skill set against this tough Villanova team. Will coach Chris Holtmann decide to start the star junior, or keep to his guns? Either way, Martin is definitely a player to watch in this matchup.
Josh Hart is currently leading the Big East in scoring and is fourth in rebounds per game. The Villanova star is a force to be reckoned with on the court, and has yet to be held to single digits in scoring this year. Watch for Hart to put his print on this game in a big way.
Jalen Brunson is arguably the best player for his team in this matchup, even considering his team mates. On top of his scoring ability (he shoots 54% from the field) Brunson is also an orchestrator of the Nova offense- he dishes out nearly five assists every game- putting him at third in the conference for dimes. Keep an eye on this young man in this game, and in the future.
Photo credit: NCAA.com