The Butler Bulldogs and Xavier Musketeers face off at Cintas Center in Cincinnati on Sunday night for their second Big East showdown of the season, so here’s my best betting pick along with all the key tips and trends.
Back on January 30, the Musketeers easily outlasted the Bulldogs 68-55 as 2-point road underdogs with a total of 132.5 points. This time, the Musketeers opened as firm 8.5-point home favorites, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, while the totals are set at 133.5 points.
Butler is coming off a heavy home loss
The Butler Bulldogs (7-12; 6-10 Conf.) have lost two games in a row, suffering a couple of heavy defeats at Georgetown 78-63 as 2-point road dogs and to Marquette 73-57 as 2-point home favorites. The Bulldogs struggled mightily on the offensive end on both occasions, shooting 39.0% from the field against the Hoyas and just 33.9% against the Golden Eagles.
Senior forward Bryce Nze (10.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG) and freshman guard Chuck Harris (11.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG) continue to lead the way for the Bulldogs who score only 102.6 points per 100 possessions (180th in the nation). Butler makes just 41.1% of its field goals (302nd) and dishes out 12.5 assists per contest (235th).
On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs allow 97.6 points per 100 possessions (85th) on 46.5% shooting from the field (300th) and 36.7% from beyond the arc (308th). They are tied with Marquette for the ninth spot in the Big East Conference, and Butler is No. 142 in the latest NCAA NET Rankings.
Xavier dropped two straight for the second time this season
After a surprising 80-72 home loss to the UConn Huskies last Saturday, the Xavier Musketeers (11-4; 4-4 Conf.) suffered a 93-84 defeat at St. John’s this past Tuesday. They played some lousy defense, especially against the Red Storm who knocked down 51.5% of their field goals and went 11-for-29 from downtown.
Xavier is No. 48 in the NCAA NET Rankings and No. 60 in the KenPom rankings. The Musketeers occupy the sixth spot in the Big East Conference, 3.5 games behind the leader Villanova. They score 112.2 points per 100 possessions (42nd) on 46.8% shooting from the field (53rd) while yielding 97.2 points in a return (77th) on 40.8% shooting from the field (55th).
Sophomore forward Zach Freemantle (16.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG) is the key guy for the Musketeers this season, while senior guard Paul Scruggs adds 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per contest.
- 3-8 ATS in the last 11 road games as underdogs of eight or more points
- 5-15 ATS in the last 20 contests against Xavier
- 11-3 ATS in the last 14 games played in February
- 7-2 ATS in the last nine home games against Butler
This is a huge game for the Musketeers who desperately need to stop their slide as soon as possible if they want to stay in the mix for the Big Dance. Of course, the Musketeers will have a chance to win the Big East Championship Tournament, but Travis Steele’s boys would certainly rather grab a few more wins in the regular season and secure their playoff berth.
The Bulldogs are quite unpredictable, but I don’t think they’ll have enough offensive firepower to deal with Xavier. Butler is a solid defensive team, but the Bulldogs could easily struggle against the Musketeers’ offense, too, if Xavier enjoys a solid shooting night.
Pick: Take Xavier -8.5 at -105
The Bulldogs will try their best to slow down things as much as they can, although the Musketeers don’t play at a very fast pace, averaging 68.7 possessions per 40 minutes. Still, Butler records only 64.6 possessions per 40 minutes, and considering the Bulldogs’ offensive flaws, they cannot rush things against the Musketeers.
Therefore, I’m going with the under on the totals. Three of the last four encounters between Butler and Xavier went in the under including their first meeting of the season in January.
Pick: Go under 133.5 points at -105