Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
By Dante Macaluso
The Butler Bulldogs will face Villanova on Wednesday evening in front of their home crowd in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs have lost four out of their last six games, including a 4-point loss to Providence at home on Saturday. Butler currently stands as 19th in the nation and fifth in the Big East with a 17-5 record (5-4 Big East).
The Bulldogs were once ranked fifth in the country, their highest ranking in school history, with a record of 15-1 before coming back down to Earth over their most recent stretch. This can be attributed partly to injuries. The Bulldogs have lost forward Christian David for the season due to an ACL tear and starting point guard Aaron Thompson is sitting out due to a wrist injury.
Turnovers have also been an issue lately, as the team has given up an average of 12 turnovers over their past four losses.
However, Kamar Baldwin, who averages 16 points per game, and Sean McDermott, who leads the team with 47 three-pointers, have picked up the slack on offense. Henry Baddley has provided excellent support on defense while Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden have been strong under the rim as Butler’s big men.
A highly competitive and talented conference can also be to blame for recent troubles, with any team able to win on any given day. DePaul, sitting at the bottom of the standings, is still 13-9 with their sole conference win being a 13-point victory over Butler. Just this past Saturday, in addition to Providence’s upset win, Xavier beat 10th-ranked Seton Hall and Creighton knocked off eighth-ranked Villanova, both by a margin of at least 12 points and both on the road.
Currently, there are four ranked teams in the Big East: Villanova, Seton Hall, Butler, and Creighton.
Now 10th-ranked Villanova will come to Indianapolis with a 17-4 record (7-2 Big East). Before Saturday, the Wildcats were on a seven-game win streak. Butler will have to slow down the likes of Saddiq Bey, who makes 45% of his 3-pointers, and Collin Gillespie, who leads the team with 15.3 points per game. In their last meeting, Villanova beat Butler in Pennsylvania, 76-61, with both Bey and Gillespie scoring 14 points each. Sean McDermott was noticeably off his game, going zero for seven from 3-point range and scoring only two points.
Both teams are looking to get back on track in the middle of conference play with only a little over a month before the Big East Tournament. The matchup will be aired on FS1 at 6:30 pm EST.