Join Our Team!Sports Beat Writing Opportunities Available!

No. 22/22 Butler Bulldogs Travel to Face No. 2/2 Villanova

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #22/22 Butler Bulldogs return to the road for another match-up of Top 25 teams when they travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday, February 22 to face the #2/2 Villanova Wildcats. The game also features the teams that currently stand in the top two spots in the BIG EAST Conference standings. The game will be aired nationally on FS1 at 9:00 PM ET with Tim Brando and Bill Raftery on the call. The Bulldogs enter the game at 21-6 overall (10-5 BIG EAST). Villanova is 26-2 (13-2 BIG EAST).

Butler knocked off #1/1 Villanova, 66-58, Jan. 4 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in front of a sell-out crowd. Redshirt senior G Kethan Savage and senior F Andrew Chrabascz led four Bulldogs in double figures with 13 points apiece. Butler ended the game on a 15-6 run to take the win. The loss was the first for Villanova this season and its first in 20 games dating back to last season for the defending national champions. The win over Villanova was the second in program history for Butler over a team ranked No. 1, joining a 2012 Crossroads Classic victory over Indiana.

This will be the ninth match-up between the two programs with a majority of the games coming since Butler joined the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 2013-14 season. Villanova owns a 7-1 lead in the series. The first meeting between the programs came as part of the 1996 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, while the last seven contests have been as BIG EAST foes.

Last time on the court, Butler shot 57 percent from the field in the 82-66 win over DePaul on Sunday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Four Bulldogs scored in double figures. Butler’s bench out-scored its counterparts from DePaul, 44-17. It was Butler’s second-highest bench performance of the season (46 vs. Norfolk State, Nov. 21). Sophomore C Nate Fowler had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis chipped in 10 points and eight assists (against no turnovers). Junior F Kelan Martin scored 14 points to go along with a game-high eight rebounds. Butler had a 46-24 edge in points in the paint against DePaul Sunday, which marked the largest advantage of the season. Butler shot 26-of-38 from two-point range against the Blue Demons (68 percent).

Butler is 21-6 overall, posting its 11th 20-win season in the last 12 years. The Bulldogs are one of only 16 programs that have posted at least 11 20-win seasons during that stretch (there are five additional teams who could achieve this mark later this season). The Bulldogs have posted 20 or more wins on 22 occasions. Eighteen of those 20-win seasons have come since 1996-97.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Bulldogs

In back-to-back games, Butler has shot 57.6 percent against St. John’s and 56.9 percent against DePaul. That is the best back-to-back shooting performance for the Bulldogs since games against Bucknell (62.1) and Norfolk State (58.2) Nov. 19 and Nov. 21, respectively. The Bulldogs matched a season-high with 13 three-pointers (shooting 50 percent from behind the arc) against St. John’s on Feb. 15. Butler made nine triples in the first half. Entering the game, Butler had only made nine three-pointers in two of its 13 BIG EAST games.

Butler has shot 50 percent or better from the field 10 times this season. The Bulldogs are 9-1 in those games. When shooting a better percentage than its opponent, Butler is 16-0 this season and 51-2 under Head Coach Chris Holtmann.

After hitting the mark in its last two games, Butler is now 32-1 under Chris Holtmann when scoring 80 or more points, including a 11-1 mark this season.

Junior F Kelan Martin has averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds over his last two games. He has shot 50 percent from the field and gotten to the free throw line 16 times. In the three games preceding this two-game stretch, Martin averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis had a season-high nine assists against St. John’s on Feb. 15 and followed that up with eight helpers (and no turnovers) against DePaul last Sunday. Lewis is fourth in the BIG EAST at 4.1 assists per game.

Lewis leads the BIG EAST and is sixth in the nation with a 3.83 assist/turnover ratio.

According to STATS Inc., freshman G Kamar Baldwin is one of only four players standing 6-feet or shorter since the 2000-01 season to post a game with at least 10 rebounds and a game with at least four blocks in the same season. Baldwin pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds against Providence on Feb. 11 and he had four blocks in the game at Marquette on Feb. 7.

Senior F Andrew Chrabascz and graduate transfer G Avery Woodson led the Bulldogs against St. John’s, each scoring 20 points in the win. It was the second time this season that a pair of Bulldogs each had 20 points (Chrabascz and Kelan Martin achieved the feat against Vermont Dec. 21).

Over his last two games, graduate transfer G Avery Woodson is shooting 10-of-16 from three-point range. That includes tying his career-high with six three-pointers against St. John’s on Feb. 15. Nine of those 10 triples have come in the first half.

Woodson’s 20 points were a season-high and his best scoring performance in a Butler uniform. He had two 20-point games while playing at Memphis. Woodson tied his career-high with six three-pointers. Wednesday was Chrabascz’s third 20-point game of the season and the seventh of his Butler career.

Junior F Tyler Wideman posted the second double-double of his career with 14 points and 10 rebounds against St. John’s on Feb. 15. The 10 rebounds matched his career-high and the fourth time he pulled down 10 caroms. Wideman has led the Bulldogs in rebounding in eight games this season and 18 times in his career.

Butler had five players in double-figures against St. John’s Feb. 15. It was the fourth time this season that Butler had five players score 10+ points. Butler is 4-0 in those contests. Butler is also 5-1 in games where the Bulldogs have four players score at least 10 points, including Sunday’s win against DePaul.

Eight different players have led the Bulldogs in scoring in at least one game this season. Six different Bulldogs have scored 20 points or more in a contest. In BIG EAST play, Butler has eight players averaging between 5.9 and 12.8 points per game.

In Monday’s RPI rankings released by the NCAA, the Bulldogs come in at No. 13. Butler has a record of 15-4 against teams currently ranked in the RPI Top 100. Those 15 wins against the Top 100 are one shy of Kansas for the most in the nation (through the games of Sunday, Feb. 19). Villanova also has 15 wins in this category.

Butler is now 5-2 against ranked teams this season, including a 4-1 mark against teams that were ranked in the Top 15 at the time of the contest. Several teams that Butler defeated in the non-conference portion of its schedule have played well since the loss to Butler: Vermont (16-0 since), Cincinnati (17-1), Arizona (20-2), and Bucknell (19-6). Villanova is 12-1 since Butler defeated the Wildcats on Jan. 4.

The Bulldogs held DePaul to 66 points in Sunday’s win. Butler is now 16-0 on the season when holding its opponent to less than 70 points. The Bulldogs are 5-6 on the season when their opponent scores 70 or more.

Butler out-rebounded St. John’s, 40-25, on Feb. 15. It was Butler’s largest rebounding advantage of the season. After also out-rebounding DePaul Sunday, the Bulldogs are now 14-2 on the season when pulling down more caroms than their opponents.

On the season, the Bulldogs are averaging only 10.1 turnovers per game. That mark is sixth nationally. Butler had a season-low four turnovers – including none in the second half – against Marquette on Jan. 16. The Bulldogs have posted 10 or fewer miscues in 13 games this season, including only seven against DePaul on Sunday.

Butler’s turnover margin of +3.3 leads the BIG EAST and is 20th nationally. Butler is 11-2 this season when committing 10 or fewer turnovers.

The Bulldogs are 6-3 this season in games decided by five points or less. Butler is also 2-0 in overtime games.

Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.