Butler vs No. 7 Villanova

Butler vs No. 7 Villanova | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on December 15, 2020

Butler has played just one basketball game this season and not since late last month due to a COVID-19 pause. The Bulldogs are scheduled to come out of that Wednesday with their Big East opener at No. 7 Villanova, which will be solidly favored on the college basketball odds.

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

Last Meeting

The schools split last season, each winning at home. The one at Villanova finished 76-61 in favor of the Wildcats, who were ranked No. 9 at the time and Butler 13th. Saddiq Bey (now in the NBA) hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points and Jermaine Samuels had 20 points for Nova. The Wildcats methodically pulled away in the second half in a game in which neither team shot well. Villanova led by 11 late in the game despite a 1-for-7 shooting slump; still enough to protect the lead with the Bulldogs on a 1 of 10 slump. Kamar Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 21 points. Butler missed 15 of 20 3-pointers.

Villanova is 11-4 against Butler under Jay Wright.

Why Bet on Butler? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Bulldogs finished the 2019-20 season ranked 21st (coaches) and 23rd (AP) in the national polls; Butler was ranked No. 5 in both national polls Jan. 13, the highest in-season ranking in program history.  Butler led the Big East and was 11th nationally, allowing only 62.1 points per game during the 2019-20 season. Butler limited opponents to a .395 field goal percentage, best in the Big East and 22nd nationally.

Butler is replacing 62.9 percent of its scoring from a season ago, which includes All-Big East performer Kamar Baldwin (fourth in Butler career scoring) and Sean McDermott. The Bulldogs only return 21 of their made 212 three-pointers from a season ago.

The lone game for Butler (1-0) so far was a 66-62 win over visiting Western Michigan on Nov. 25. Senior Aaron Thompson led the Bulldogs with a career-high 21 points to go along with four assists and two steals. He went 6-of-9 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line.

Graduate transfer Jair Bolden’s three-pointer with 8:24 remaining erased WMU’s last lead of the game, pulling the Bulldogs ahead 55-53. Ten of Bolden’s 15 points came in the second half. Bolden added a career-best nine rebounds.

The victory was the 59th consecutive home win against a non-conference opponent for the Bulldogs; that is the nation’s longest active streak. Butler was unable to create distance from the Broncos as neither team ever led by double figures. The Bulldogs were hampered by 40-percent shooting, but committed only six turnovers. Butler had a player test positive for COVID-19 after the game. Which player is not known.

Last year, Thompson was second in the Big East in assist/turnover ratio (2.5) and fourth in assists per game (4.7). He was named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2019-20 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Why Bet on Villanova? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Wildcats (5-1) have had a couple of games postponed but at least have gotten in six so far. They opened Big East play with a 76-63 win at Georgetown last Friday.

Villanova climbed out of an 18-point first half hole to stun the Hoyas. It was the Wildcats’ ninth consecutive win in a conference opener (2012-20). The ‘Cats trailed 40-22 at the 4:45 mark of the first half and 46-33 at halftime. Caleb Daniels and Collin Gillespie each scored 18 points to pace Nova. In the second half, the Wildcats outscored the Hoyas 43-17. In the first half, Georgetown sizzled, connecting on 18-of-31 field goal attempts, including 6-of-10 from deep. The Wildcats, meanwhile, were just 12-of-33 (.364).

Villanova’s on-court leader is Gillespie, who alongside classmates Jermaine Samuels Jr. and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, was a freshman reserve on the 2018 NCAA championship team. Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels has been a reliable contributor thus for the Wildcats. He has started all six games in 2020-21, averaging 12.7 points and 27.7 minutes per contest. He is shooting 54.9 percent from the field.

Nova was supposed to play Monday vs. DePaul in its home opener but that was postponed because of issues among the Blue Demons. This will be the first time the team will play as many as six games away from Villanova to open a season since, 2003-04, when Nova played seven on road and neutral courts before hosting a game.

Villanova has been without senior forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (shin) and sophomore guard Bryan Antoine (right shoulder) thus far in 2020-21. There is not yet a projected return to action for either of the two Wildcats.

Expert Prediction

  • Villanova 73, Butler 64

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