Basketball has been good to Coach Rick and Tuesday we move to the college ranks where Butler looks to pull itself out of a two-game funk. The problem for the Bulldogs is that ninth-ranked Villanova wants to make it a three-game losing skid. History leans toward the skid continuing. Will it?
No. 13 Butler is one of the biggest surprises of the young 2019-20 college basketball season. Picked by most experts to finish near the bottom of the Big East Conference, the Bulldogs started the season with nine straight wins. Their first loss? Yeah, it was to now No. 1 Baylor by a single point.
Butler was 15-1 and ranked fifth in the nation until last week. That’s when the slide began. The first loss was understandable. Head coach LaVall Jordan’s team committed 17 turnovers and lost to No. 18 Seton Hall 78-70. You can’t turn the ball over like that against good teams (Seton Hall is 6-0 in Big East play).
The uglier loss was to DePaul, which was previously winless in conference play. The Blue Demons hit 10-of-17 from 3-point range and Butler allowed a season-high 79 points in 79-66 loss.
Jordan will no doubt have his team ready to play on Tuesday night, but the Bulldogs go up against a Wildcat team that has won five of the last six Big East titles. Villanova has won 10 of its last 11 games. The only hiccup was a 71-60 loss to Markus Howard (29 points) and 13-5 Marquette on the road.
Over its last ten games, head coach Jay Wright’s defense has been outstanding. Villanova is holding opponents to just 63.2 points a game. In their last win over Connecticut on Saturday, Villanova held the Huskies to 2-for-15 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.
History Plays a Part in This Series
What’s really interesting is the history of this series.
Villanova has won the last four in a row over Butler and seven of the last ten. The Wildcats have won the last three games at home in the series. Taking it a step further, Villanova won last year at Finneran Pavilion as an 8.0-point favorite. They won by 19.
In 2018, Villanova was an 8.5-point favorite over Butler as the home team in the Big East tournament. The Wildcats again won by 19. Also in 2018, Villanova was a 9.5-point favorite at home and won by 11.
Heading into Tuesday night’s game, Villanova is favored by 3.5 points. Both the Wildcats (66.8) and Bulldogs play good defense. Butler is actually fifth in the nation in points allowed giving up just 57.1 points a game.
Butler doesn’t play well on the road. They are just 5-15 in their last 20 away games. Coach Rick expects the Bulldogs to play well, but remember that Butler is 1-4 ATS in their five games against Villanova and 0-3 ATS in the last three when the Wildcats were the home team. Villanova will cover the 3.5 points. This one currently has the spread from 3.5 to 4.5, so be sure to check our College Basketball previews to get the best odds for every game.
NCAAB Free Pick Today Against the Spread: Villanova -3.5
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.