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Villanova aims to split the season series with Butler and improve to 4-1 in February | Villanova vs. Butler Preview

Written by on February 20, 2024

As winners of three of their last four games, Villanova wants to continue their upward movement in the Big East standings. The Wildcats are getting hot and playing some of their best basketball at the right time. They are currently in sixth place in the conference just a half a game above Butler with a 14-11 overall record and 7-7 conference record. Tonight, Villanova matches up against Butler for the second time this season at the Finneran Pavilion.

All-Time Series

Villanova leads the all-time series against Butler, 16-7. However, the Wildcats have lost two of their last three games against the Bulldogs, including their most recent matchup against Butler on January 27, 2024. The good news for Villanova tonight is that the game is not being played at Hinkle Fieldhouse, which has been a place of horrors for the Wildcats over the past few years. Villanova is 6-1 all-time at the Finn against Butler.

Butler Preview

Butler is 16-10 overall in their 2023-24 campaign, but the Bulldogs are just 7-8 against Big East competition. They are 2-3 in their last five games in the month of February. The Bulldogs’ two wins came against #13 Creighton on the road and Providence at home. Butler has lost their last two games, including a most recent 22-point loss to #17 Creighton on February 17th.

The Bulldogs’ offense has been one of the best in the Big East all season. They are extremely consistent and average almost 80 points per game. Despite some recent offensive struggles, Butler still has four players averaging at least ten points: Pierre Brooks, DJ Davis, Jahmyl Telfort, and Posh Alexander.

Bulldogs Team Offensive Stats

As a team, the Bulldogs convert 45.7% of their shots from the field. They are an excellent three-point shooting team with almost a 36% success rate. They have good free throw shooting numbers too with a team 79.1% success rate. Their offense averages just 10.6 turnovers per game, which is comparable to Villanova’s excellent 9.6 turnovers per contest.

Butler’s Players to Watch

G Pierre Brooks (Junior, Detroit, MI): 15.3 ppg, 45.3% FG%

Brooks scored 15 points against #4 Marquette on 2/13 but scored just 2 points against #17 Creighton on 2/17.

G DJ Davis (Senior, Moreno Valley, CA): 14.1 ppg

Davis scored 12 points against Creighton and had a stretch of at least 20 points in four straight games in January-early February.

G Jahmyl Telfort (Senior, Montreal, Quebec): 13.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg

He scored at least ten points in six straight games before scoring just four points against Creighton on 2/17.

G Posh Alexander (Senior, Brooklyn, NY): 11 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.1 apg

Alexander scored 13 points against Creighton on 6-11 shooting from the field.

Butler’s Defensive Struggles

Overall, Butler’s offense has been very successful for most of the season. However, the Bulldogs’ defense has not been as consistent and reliable this season. They have lost some games due to their defensive struggles, especially late in the game.

First Matchup on January 27th

In the first matchup between these two Big East rivals, Butler defeated Villanova, 88-81, in double overtime. Villanova started the game with a huge run, but Butler battled back late to take the game to overtime and eventually win. DJ Davis led Butler to victory with 28 points in that game on January 27th. Eric Dixon also scored 28 points for Villanova, but the Wildcats’ offensive struggles in overtime cost them. The key differences that led the Bulldogs to victory were the late game struggles by Villanova, the Wildcats’ poor rebounding, and Villanova’s 14 turnovers compared to Butler’s 10 turnovers. In a rare performance by Villanova, the Wildcats also shot just 67% from the free throw line and only took nine attempts.

My Thoughts + Keys to the Game

To win this game, Villanova must play better defense against Butler’s main four scorers: Telfort, Davis, Brooks, and Alexander. The Wildcats have limited opponents to 53.5 points per game in the month of February. However, Villanova is just 1-8 when allowing more than 70 points this season, so the defense must continue their dominance in February against Butler. The Wildcats did not have issues scoring in the paint in the first game with 44 points, but they must find a way to make the rebound battle more competitive. They were out rebounded by ten rebounds against Butler in the first game. I expect Eric Dixon to have another huge performance tonight after being the best player for Villanova on January 27th and honestly all season. To keep up with Butler’s offensive capabilities, Villanova will also need other starters or bench players like Brendan Hausen to step up, once again. Hausen was scoreless in just four minutes against Butler in the first game, but the sophomore has averaged almost 14 points per game in his last four games.

Justin Moore was just 2 for 12 from the field with five points in the first contest of the season against Butler, but Moore looked really good in Villanova’s most recent game against Georgetown with 10 points. He scored all ten points in the second half. Villanova would love to have a more confident and offensive scoring Moore for the final stretch run. The Wildcats have a huge opportunity tonight to extend their lead over Butler and continue to move up the rankings for hopefully a March Madness at-large bid.

WXVU’s Live Coverage of Villanova vs. Butler

WXVU’s live coverage of Villanova vs. Butler begins at 6pm tonight with the pregame show. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30pm from the Finn.