The No. 19 Butler Bulldogs will host the No. 10 Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday evening in a game featuring two teams that are coming off of losses over the weekend.
Villanova is currently 17-4 overall with a 7-2 record in the Big East, placing it second in the league. Butler has regressed to the mean since being ranked in the top five nationally, losing four of its last six games. The Bulldogs are currently 17-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big East, tied with Providence for fifth in the league.
Villanova is led by junior guard Collin Gillespie and sophomore wing Saddiq Bey. Both players average 15 points per game and are knockdown shooters from the perimeter.
The Wildcats are solid on both ends of the floor but don’t create easy opportunities in transition. Jay Wright’s team is currently ranked 253rd in defensive turnover percentage and 159th in steal rate.
They aren’t exactly bad defensively; they just don’t have many opportunities in transition, ranking eighth of 10 in the Big East in fast-break opportunities.
If you think Villanova plays slow, wait until you get a load of Butler. The Bulldogs actually rank 10th out of 10 in transition opportunities in the Big East. The number makes up just 10.9 percent of their opportunities, as they are averaging just eight transition possessions per game.
This is, of course, reflected by both teams ranking in the bottom 80 in the nation in Kenpom’s tempo metric.
Butler is a 2.5-point favorite playing at home, with the over/under set at 130.5.
Even Struggling At Home
The Bulldogs have lost two of their last three games at home, and the one game they were able to win was an overtime victory against Marquette. Overall, the Bulldogs are 10-2 at Hinkle, but the struggles lately are evident.
Butler is 14-3 straight up as a favorite this season and 12-9-1 against the spread overall. At home, the Bulldogs are a respectable 6-5-1 ATS.
Butler is one of the slowest teams in the nation, happy to grind out victories to the tune of 13 under totals in its 22 games on the season, including eight of 12 at home. Of course, during its recent struggles, the total has gone over in five of its last seven.
Villanova Rebounds Well
While the Wildcats rank 230th in the nation in total rebounding, they tend to do it well on the season. Villanova has not lost back-to-back games yet in 2019-20 and has followed each loss with a win and margin of victory of 13.3 points per game.
The bad news is that Villanova is just 2-3 against ranked teams this season with an average margin of victory of minus-6.6 points per game while underperforming the spread by 8.8 points per game.
The Wildcats are 10-10-1 ATS overall and have totals that have gone under in all six of their true road games.
Lesser Of Two Bad Trends
This Villanova team has not been great against good teams this season, but the Bulldogs have just been out of sorts for a while now. Hinkle Fieldhouse is a great home court, and Butler is 62-15 there over the last five seasons.
Of course, two of those losses have come to Jay Wright. Gillespie is one of the more underrated players in the entire country, while Aaron Thompson has been out for Butler and will be a game-time decision for Wednesday night’s game. Thompson is one of the best defenders in the Big East, and his absence has played a big role in Butler’s recent struggles.
The easy play is the under, but if we were going to bet the spread, I’d take Butler at home if Thompson plays, Villanova straight up if he doesn’t.