Villanova (14-0, 2-0) at Butler (12-2, 1-1)
When: Wednesday, January 4th 2017
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Time: 6:30 ET | TV: FOX Sports 1
The top-ranked Villanova Wildcats put their perfect record on the line when they visit Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on the Butler Bulldogs in Big East action Wednesday night. The defending National Champion Wildcats improved to 14-0 on Saturday with an impressive 80-70 victory at previously unbeaten Creighton. Villanova continues to be led by senior guard Josh Hart, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds against Creighton. Hart is averaging 20.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 56.3% from the field, 81.7% from the foul line and 40.6% from the 3-point line. The Wildcats also received a career-high 27 points from sophomore guard Jalen Brunson against Creighton, as he made 10-of-14 shots including 5-of-7 from long range. Kris Jenkins knocked down four 3-pointers but has not shot a very good percentage from long range in five of the last six games. Hart is 2-of-9 from 3-point range over the last two games but has shot at least 50 percent from the floor in 12 of 14 games. Guard Mikal Bridges averages 10 points but has scored in single-figures in four of the last five games.
The Bulldogs had a rough New Year’s as they lost their opening Big East contest at St. John’s 76-73 last Thursday then had their flight lose cabin pressure on the way home, prompting an emergency landing in Pittsburgh. Ultimately, the team showed no ill-effects against Providence and went on for an easy 78-61 victory. Kelan Martin scored 15 points and Avery Woodson and Andrew Chrabascz added 11 apiece. Martin and Chrabascz are the only two double-figure scorers with the former leading the way at 18.1 points a game. The Bulldogs are once again one of the better shooting teams in the country, ranking 14th in field goal percentage (49.9) and 39th in 3-pointers (39.4%). Butler has lost all seven meetings against Villanova, but are a confident group right now that is 8-0 at home including wins over Northwestern and Cincinnati. The Bulldogs will be on the road for two straight after this – Georgetown and Creighton.
Villanova has proven they are not afraid to play in a hostile enviornment after Saturday’s win in Creighton. Until this team loses, I can’t go against them.
Pick: Villanova -1.5