Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Villanova has lost four regular season basketball games.
And for the third time in 2017 calendar year, it was Butler that handed Villanova one of those losses.
Kelan Martin scored 24 points while Paul Jorgensen added 23 and Kamar Baldwin chipped in with 19 points, nine boards and seven assists as the Bulldogs shot 15-for-22 from three in a 101-93 win over the No. 1 Wildcats in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Butler shot 60 percent from the floor. They scored 1.40 points-per-possession against the notoriously stingy Villanova defense, the best showing that any team has had against them since Doug McDermott and Creighton forgot how to miss during the 2013-14 season. It dropped Villanova from a top ten defense, according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency model, to the No. 23 defense.
This is a massive win for Butler, who led by as many as 22 points during the second half, as they appear to be tracking towards a spot on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Villanova has staying power. They are going to be one of the best teams in the country all season long. This is going to be an elite win all season long, the kind of win that can set Butler’s résumé apart from the rest of their bubble compatriots.
It should also go a long way to alleviating some of the concerns that Butler fans had about this group. Twitter mentions are hardly the best way to gauge a consensus for how a fan base is feeling, but when Butler was trailing Georgetown by 20 points at halftime of their Big East opener this week, my mentions were hit with Bulldog fans wondering just how good of a coach LaVall Jordan would. Something about the defense not being tough enough, or the offense not running smoothly.
I don’t know.
I thought it was silly at the time.
And hopefully this performance will help to quell some the doubts those maniacs have.
It’s almost like there’s a Butler Way or something.
The bigger question seems to be whether or not there is some grandiose take to be had regarding Villanova, and I don’t think there is.
I don’t think Villanova played terribly on Saturday, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. They certainly weren’t good defensively, but I’m not sure that the Boston Celtics could have slowed Butler down today. Sometimes a team catches fire, and when they do, they do things like this:
We can’t chalk all of this up to lights-out shooting.
Villanova’s ability to keep Butler out of the paint left much to be desired. The Bulldogs found their way to every loose ball for the first 32 minutes and made all the right plays, passes and reads, and held off a big Villanova run in the final minutes. They deserved to win, and Villanova deserved to lose.
And you know what the great part about college basketball is?
Sometimes that happens in league play.
Villanova is still awesome. They still may be the best team in the country, even if they won’t be ranked No. 1 come Monday morning.