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Villanova vs. Butler Preview

VUSports previews Villanova vs. Butler tonight at 9:00 p.m. at the Pavilion on FS1 ...

#2 AP Villanova faces #22 Butler at the Pavilion on Wednesday night at 9:00 (TV: FS1, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).  Villanova (26-2, 13-2) looks to avenge one of two losses suffered this season.  The Bulldogs ended a 20-game Villanova win streak with a 66-58 win over the Cats at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 4th.  

Kenpom predicts a 74-64 win for Villanova with an 81% chance of the Cats coming away with the win.  ‘Nova leads the all-time series, 7-1 which started in 1996 with a Wildcat win over Butler in San Juan Puerto Rico.  The two teams have met seven times in Big East play with the Cats winning the first six games prior losing the January match-up.

Butler is the only team with a mathematical shot at tying Villanova for the Big East regular season championship.  The Bulldogs need to win three straight to close the season while Villanova would have to drop three straight.  That would create a tie for the conference regular season championship.  There is no tie-breaker, the teams would be considered co-Champions.  However, there is a tie-breaker in terms of Big East Tournament seeding and Butler would lay claim to that tie-breaker with a win tonight by virtue of sweeping the Cats in the regular season.  

Butler (21-6, 10-5) is currently at #13 RPI and #25 kenpom with Top 50 wins over Northwestern, Vanderbilt (Neutral), Arizona (Neutral), Cincinnati, Villanova, Xavier and at Seton Hall.  The Bulldogs are projected to earn a #4 Seed in the NCAA Tournament based on their resume to-date.

The Bulldogs have a great blend of offense and defense.  They shoot the ball well, don’t turn the ball over, and get balanced scoring contributions, of 7.7 or more PPG, from six players.  Defensively, they rebound and defend the three-point arc well but can be a bit foul prone.  The Cats and Dogs play at a similar tempo - so don’t expect to see a significant clash in style of play (though Villanova does prefer to shoot a higher percentage of shots from three-point range).  Butler is good at shutting down passing lanes and forcing players to create more offense one-on-one - Villanova has players with the ability to make good offensive decisions and are not as likely to be taken out of what they do as some other teams.

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per Kenpom.com)

a few things stand out:

Both teams shoot the ball with a high degree of efficiency

Both teams take care of the basketball and avoid turnovers

Neither team grabs offensive rebounds at a high rate

the Villanova defense doesn’t create turnovers but makes up for that somewhat by not fouling much

other stats of interest:

The Cats have a 80.6% to 73.4% edge in FT shooting

Butler shoots the ball very well from two-point range and the Cats allow teams to shoot a high percentage from two - expect Butler to attack the rim with cutters and passing

Butler gets about 10% more bench minutes than the Cats

Butler player thumbnails:

Kelan Martin (6-7, 220, Jr., 29.2 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 2.2 TPG, 33.3% 3PFG, 40.8% FG, 76.6% FT, 100.5 ORtg)  Martin is a versatile scorer and takes a lot of shots when he is on the floor.  He draws a lot of fouls and converts when he gets to the line.  A good defensive rebounder.  Statistically ranked as the 3rd best player in the Big East by kenpom (Behind Hart and Brunson of Villanova).

Andrew Chrabascz (6-7, 230, Sr., 32.4 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 36.8% 3PFG, 44.9% FG, 74.6% FT, 114.3 ORtg)  A versatile, cerebral, player that can shoot the trey, score off the bounce, post up and hit the open man with timely passes.  Strong with the ball, makes good decisions, and vocally leads the defense.  He is the heart and soul of this Bulldog team.

Tyler Lewis (5-11, 170, Sr., 22.2 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 4.1 APG, 46.5% 3PFG, 55.2% FG, 77.8% FT, 134.4 ORtg) Lewis has been a far more efficient offensive player for Butler than he was last season - because he is making his own shots at a quality rate.  He is also doing a nice job of distributing the basketball and a better job of staying in front of his man as an on-the-ball defender.  He is not a plus defender.

Tyler Wideman (6-8, 240, Jr., 23.0 MPG, 7.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.7 BPG, 61.8% FG, 64.8% FT, 118.7 ORtg)  Plays a man’s game in the paint.  Wideman sets a mean screen, rebounds and blocks shots.  He does a lot of the dirty work for Butler while also finishing well around the rim when he gets an open look.  He can hit shots out to mid-range with some efficiency but doesn’t venture outside the arc to shoot.

Kamar Baldwin (6-0, 170, Fr., 25.7 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 41.8% 3PFG, 49.1% FG, 83.9% FT, 107.7 ORtg)  Baldwin has been a very pleasant surprise contributor as a Frosh for the Bulldogs on both ends of the floor.  He gets in passing lanes, he knocks down the open trey, and he can get to the rim some off the bounce.  Prone to turnovers.  He scored 10 points from two-point range against the Cats in the first meeting.

Avery Woodson (6-2, 190, Sr., 22.1 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 41.3% 3PFG, 43.6% FG, 72.2% FT, 122.3 ORtg)  The Senior has provided some quality bench minutes for Butler.  He is not shy about looking for his own shot when he gets run.  Woodson is shooting the three-pointer well and that is the focus of his offensive game.  He has a very lo turnover rate and that contributes heavily to his high offensive efficiency rating.

Sean McDermott (6-6, 190, Fr., 12.6 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 35.7% 3PFG, 41.5% FG, 61.5% FT, 111.3 ORtg)  Earns some minutes on the wing.  Rangy and versatile but inexperienced.  

Kethan Savage (6-3, 205, Sr., 19.0 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 27.8% 3PFG, 46.2% FG, 72.0% FT, 110.8 ORtg)  Can play either guard spot.  Has struggled shooting from two-point range and from the free-throw line.  Has ball security issues at times but contributes as a defender.  Savage got to the rim with frequency against ‘Nova in January - pouring in 13 points.

Nate Fowler (6-10, 240, So., 11.6 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 58.8% 3PFG, 69.1% FG, 78.8% FT,  141.0 ORtg)  Good offensive rebounder.  Shoots the ball well but does not shoot a high volume.  

VUSPORTS SUBSCRIBERS: Here is a link to shot charts for key Butler Bulldog players and additional pre-game analysis from ONIN2TO: CLICK HERE

Injuries: Phil Booth, Darryl Reynolds and Tim Delaney are all expected to be out for Villanova


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