#10 Villanova vs Butler Road to March Madness

#10 Villanova vs Butler Road to March Madness | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on February 26, 2021

Butler is having a hugely disappointing season to where the Bulldogs can really only play spoilers at this point. They will be sizable home underdogs on the NCAAB odds for Sunday’s Big East matchup against No. 10 Villanova. The Wildcats will be back in the Big Dance and are +1400 to win it all again.

How to Bet Villanova at Butler NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

These teams opened Big East play against one another way back on Dec. 16 at Villanova and the Cats rolled to an 85-66 victory – it was coach Jay Wright’s 600th career win. Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each scored 18 points for the Wildcats. Jair Bolden scored 18 points and helped the Bulldogs stay competitive with 3-pointers that kept them within two for a while in the second half. Butler turned it over 15 times and Nova just six.

Why Bet on Villanova? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Villanova (15-3) won its second in a row Tuesday, 81-58 over St. John’s – the Johnnies had upset Villanova about three weeks prior. On Tuesday, though, St. John’s star Posh Alexander exited the game in the final minutes with an injury to his right hand.  The four-time Big East Freshman of the Week had just four points, two assists and two steals. As a team, St. John’s shot 13.0 percent (3-of-23) from deep.  The Red Storm’s 58 points were a season low.

“On the road if you don’t shoot the ball well, the chances of winning are pretty slim to none,” Red Storm coach Mike Anderson said. “You have got to do some extraordinary things to overcome that. We didn’t shoot the ball well and I thought our defense suffered at that same time. Of course, Jay [Wright], he is going to have his team ready, and I thought that they were ready to play. They came out shooting the ball well and we shot 3-of-23 from three and we had some good looks. Again, let’s give the credit to [Villanova], they played an outstanding game.”

Junior Caleb Daniels led a balanced Villanova attack with 17 points. Bob Cousy Award finalist Collin Gillespie scored 10 of his 14 points in the early minutes to lead his team to a big lead. For the second straight outing, Villanova’s defense clamped down on a Big East foe. Days after holding UConn to 60 points and 36 percent shooting in a win Saturday, the ‘Cats contained St. John’s to the tune of .362 shooting.

“We were really clicking,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “When we played them up there, they were really clicking.”

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the five finalists for the 2021 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is one of the five along with Drew Timme (Gonzaga), Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana), Justin Champagnie (Pittsburgh) and Sandro Mamukelashvili (Seton Hall). Robinson-Earl ranks seventh in the Big East in points per game (15.6 ppg); sixth in rebounding (7.5 rpg); and ninth in field goal percentage (.502).

As for Sunday, the Wildcats are 4-3 all-time at Hinkle Field House, with their first appearance coming on Dec. 31, 2013.

Why Bet on Butler? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Butler (8-13) played without two of its best players on Wednesday but still upset Seton Hall 61-52. The Pirates were up seven early and went into halftime leading Butler, 26-24, but the Bulldogs came out in the second half with a 10-1 run, punctuated by Jair Bolden making three free throws after a shooting foul was called.

Seton Hall was just 2-for-11 from the field to start the second half, allowing the Bulldogs to extend their lead into double digits with their run stretching from 10-1 to 20-6. The Pirates got as close as seven, 44-37, with 10:07 remaining, but the Pirates then went three more minutes without scoring. Seton Hall was just 2-for-7 from the free throw line. The seven free throw attempts were the fewest by the Pirates this season.

Seton Hall had 30 points in the paint to Butler’s 18, but the Bulldogs out-rebounded the Pirates, 36-28. It was Seton Hall’s first loss in its last 19 tries when holding its Big East opponent under 70 points. The previous time was Feb. 28, 2018 vs. Villanova.

Bolden led the Bulldogs with 16 points, all of which came in the second half. His first three-pointer of the night (giving Butler a 29-26 lead with 18:31 to play) pushed him over 1,000 career points (including this season at Butler and previous seasons at South Carolina and George Washington).

Bryce Nze returned to the line-up after missing the last two games with a groin injury. He posted 11 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season and the 14th of his career. The 52 points allowed to Seton Hall were the fewest scored by a Butler opponent this season.

Butler played without starting guards Aaron Thompson (shoulder/thumb) and Bo Hodges (calf) for the second consecutive game. Thompson also missed the Jan. 2 loss at Seton Hall, while Hodges had not had his NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility approved at that point in the season. Thompson is questionable for Sunday.

Expert Prediction

  • Villanova 70, Butler 63

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