Pick with Analysis
Villanova is in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season, having to face two of the better teams in the Big East back-to-back on the road. Butler, while already with an impressive resume, still has a chance of winning the regular season Conference title with a win against Nova.
These teams already played on the last day of December with the Wildcats walking away with a mostly convincing home win 67-55. Despite getting destroyed on the boards (40-29 overall, 17-3 offensive), Nova’s shooting and their ability to get to the free-throw line was the difference. The good thing for the Wildcats is that they didn’t play exceptionally well, but then again neither did the Bulldogs shooting 35.5% from the floor.
Butler has been on a nice stretch of Games lately with their only loss coming on the road at Georgetown. The Bulldogs have lost only one home Game all year and that was back on Jan. 6 to Providence. They have dealt with everyone else pretty handily.
If Villanova can escape with a win here, it’d be hard to see them losing the Big East considering they’ll have swept Butler. The Wildcats Schedule isn’t extremely difficult to close the year and they should finish the regular season inside the AP Top 10 once again. This is a team that is noticeably better than the rest of the conference, and playing in the Big East has kind of hurt them in recent years.
The Wildcats have won eight of their last 10 Games by at least 13 points, which says it all. In the rematch against Georgetown, they dominated 69-53. However, as we’ve seen in losses at Seton Hall and Georgetown, if Nova was to lose it would be on the road.
If the Bulldogs dominate on the boards like they did in the first Game, it’ll be hard to see them going down easily in this Game. It’s not like they have a huge team either. Roosevelt Jones had five offensive rebounds and nine total and leading rebounder Kameron Woods (9.5 rpg) didn’t even play that well, either.
Butler will have to shoot better if they want to get a win. That starts with Kellen Dunham, who has been hitting his shot in recent Games, scoring close to 20 points per contest over the last couple weeks. He only had 10 points in the first meeting. In addition to Jones and Dunham, someone like Alex Barlow will need to catch fire from deep or even Andrew Chrabascz, who has been awesome lately, going for 30 points recently at Marquette.
However, it’s likely Villanova will still have the advantage on the other end. They move the ball a ton, and combined with their athleticism, gives Butler tons of problems. If the Wildcats fail to make a dent on the offensive glass, though, that could end up being an issue in a close Game.
The Wildcats are a tough team to defend because you never know who they’re going to. They have six guys that average at least nine points per Game and any one of them can be their leading scorer on a given night. It doesn’t help that they have a multitude of shooters, either. Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston will have the biggest job of being forces on the glasses, while guards Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono attack from the outside.
Butler has a solid chance at winning here, but if they struggle to make their shots again, that chance will be gone.
Our Prediction – Butler by 1