Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS – (Special BIG EAST Coverage for Digital Sports Desk by Sports Xchange) – No. 1 Villanova appears to be on cruise control, but a visit to No. 18 Butler could be a legitimate road block for the defending national champions. The Wildcats take on the Bulldogs on Wednesday looking to win their 21st straight game behind do-it-all senior Josh Hart.
Villanova Coach Jay Wright
The veteran guard is averaging 20.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 56.3 percent from the field, 81.7 percent from the foul line and 40.6 percent from the 3-point line. He was 7-of-11 en route to 18 points with 10 rebounds in a 10-point road win against previously unbeaten Creighton last weekend. “It’s good to get in here, play Villanova basketball against a tough team and have something we can build on,” Hart told reporters. “We know we can get a lot better. In March we can say we played in a tough environment. We faced adversity and we overcame it.” Butler is no slouch, having lost twice this season by a total of four points, and Sunday’s 17-point win over Providence served as a confidence boost heading into Wednesday’s showdown.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT VILLANOVA (14-0, 2-0 Big East): The Wildcats also received a career-high 27 points from sophomore guard Jalen Brunson versus Creighton, as he made 10-of-14 shots including 5-of-7 from long range. Kris Jenkins knocked down four 3-pointers but the Wildcats’ hero from the national championship game has not shot a good percentage from the arc in five of the last six outings. 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 – and is two made buckets from being at or above 50 percent in all 14 contests.
ABOUT BUTLER (12-2, 1-1): The Bulldogs lost by three to St. John’s and 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 as Kelan Martin scored 15 points and Avery Woodson and Andrew Chrabascz added 11 apiece. “(I was) pleased with our ability to perform and respond from the other night,” coach Chris Holtmann told reporters after his team improved to 8-0 at home with wins against Northwestern and Cincinnati.
1. The Wildcats have won all seven meetings with the Bulldogs.
2. Villanova could look to attack the rim, as Butler’s Tyler Wideman (12) is the only player on his team with more than seven blocks.
3. Wildcats G Mikal Bridges averages 10 points but has scored in single-figures in four of the last five contests.