#8 Villanova Wildcats (24-3) vs. Butler Bulldogs (12-15)
When: Wednesday, February 26, 8 p.m.
Where: The Pavilion
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
Result of Previous Matchup: Villanova won 76-73 in overtime at Butler
Key Players for Butler: #24 Kellen Dunham (6-6, 185) So., G; #23 Khyle Marshall (6-6, 216) Sr., F; #31 Kameron Woods (6-9, 200) Jr., F
Scouting Report: Butler is surely has to be missing former coach Brad Stevens. They started the season doing pretty well for themselves. When these two teams first met, Butler was 10-2 entering the game. Since then, Butler has only obtained 2 wins and has racked up 13 losses. They have not fared well in Big East play. One bright spot for the Bulldogs, is their sophomore guard Kellen Dunham. Dunham continues to flourish in his bigger role as the leading man. Last year, he was a part of the supporting cast, now he leads the way. He is the top scorer for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.6 points per game. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the court, whether it be at the perimeter or driving inside. Dunham is also great from the free throw line, converting 82.1% of his attempts. His one problem is that he will take a large number of shots each game, but not necessarily make them. Some of his shots are also questionable. He is shooting 38.6% overall on the floor, and 36.3% from beyond the arc. He can make some big plays and also make some big misses. Another key player is Khyle Marshall, who is having his best season of his career. Marshall saved his best for his final year at Butler. Marshall is right behind Dunham in scoring, with 14.7 points per game. The senior forward also averages 4.9 rebounds per game. Like Dunham, he’s coming off of a great game in the loss to Providence. Marshall had 22 points, while Dunham had 25. Marshall is good at making his way to the basket and scoring inside. He is shooting 52.5% on the floor, but is noticeably not the best at the free throw line. His 49.6% from the line is hard to miss. Over the last five games, he is 13 for 23 for foul shots. Another key piece inside is Kameron Woods. Woods will chip in a few points here and there, but he will grab rebounds and do it well. His scoring isn’t amazing, but his 9.1 rebounds per game are the best in the Big East. Other players to keep an eye out for are Elijah Brown, Andrew Chrabascz, and Alex Barlow. Brown, the son of NBA head coach Mike Brown, gives key minutes off the bench for the Butler. Brown will take a lot of threes, but only makes 29.2% of his three point shots. He had a great game against Villanova in the first meeting, putting up 19 points. Chrabascz has been on the rise this season, landing a spot in the starting rotation. When these two teams first met, he saw some action off the bench. Now, expect him in the starting rotation. He can quietly have a double digit scoring performance, and has been playing well as of late. As for Barlow, he can do a little of everything. However, he is known for his play on defense. He is a great defender around the perimeter, and averages 1.8 steals per game. Over the last three games, he has a combined 8 steals.
Outlook: I can’t see Butler winning this one, especially since it is a home game at the Pavilion for the Wildcats. Since Butler started the conference portion of their schedule, they’ve gone downhill since that first loss against Villanova. They are coming into Wednesday night with a six game losing streak. They have had a number of close ones that they just could not get the break they were looking for. However, the Bulldogs did play the Wildcats tough, taking the game into overtime. Villanova has to play a smoother and better game than what they have shown in the past week. The shots need to fall and the number of turnovers (especially the ones that come at a bad time) needs to drop. Butler is has been known for their team oriented offense, they will move the ball around until they can create a favorable shot. It is important that each Wildcat covers their man until the shot clock goes off or the shot is released. The Wildcats should look to take the ball inside through JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu. Pinkston ate them up inside and Ochefu played well defensively in the paint. Ochefu has been getting better and better offensively as the season continues, he should be a big contributor inside. Butler took away the perimeter last time, but it wasn’t a big deal because Villanova had more size and strength, and simply more skill inside. James Bell has played well in the big games this season, there’s no way he will accept defeat in his final game at the Pavilion. It’s pretty simple, limit Dunham, beat them inside which will open up the perimeter later, and play cleanly and smart.
Bell, Tony Chennault, and Nick McMahon will be honored before their game, as is tradition for Senior Night.