The usual enormous Saturday college basketball slate means no time for any commentary today, and it straight to the daily free play. This also happens to be one of the more compelling hookups on the huge schedule, one that’s definitely likely to be worth watching.
541 XAVIER @ 542 BUTLER
Take: 542 BUTLER -3
The very bottom of the Big East might not be much with St. John’s and DePaul each having very difficult campaigns. But 1-8 this is a very good outfit, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest there are a number of teams in this conference that could do some damage come March Madness. Two of those squads get together here as Butler plays host to Xavier.
Butler will definitely be in payback mode today. The Bulldogs were beaten up at Xavier back in early January. The Musketeers exploited what on that day was a soft Butler interior and scored a load of easy buckets en route to a convincing 88-69 win. That was the early portion of what turned out to be a really lousy stretch of basketball for Butler. The Bulldogs eventually dropped all the way to 3-6 in league play, and the three wins were against the two aforementioned Big East weaklings.
But things are looking up for Butler. They’ve now mowed down three straight opponents, and it looks like whatever was ailing the Bulldogs has been remedied. They’re now flashing the form they displayed early in the season, when they were looking like a powerhouse. That Butler team earned some very impressive wins, and I’m banking on those Bulldogs to be in action today.
Xavier is obviously anything but a pushover. The Musketeers don’t figure to be in a very good mood following a bad game at Creighton. History buffs will, in fact, most likely be all over X here. They’ve pretty much owned Butler over the years, with an impressive 9-1-1 STS ledger in the last 11 meetings, including 5-1 vs. the line on this court.
But I’m putting more weight on what’s happening right now rather than what has taken place in the past. As I frequently mention at this time of the season, I’m a fan of backing avenging home teams that are coming in with positive momentum. I won’t give the exact parameters of how I break this down, but teams fitting what I look for in this scenario win far more often than they lose. This angle, if you want to call it that, has popped at roughly a 60% clip going back several seasons, and it’s 11-6 so far this year. Butler does indeed qualify as a play and my projections also have them winning the game as far as the math goes.
I wouldn’t expect this to be easy by any means, but I see Butler winning this one and with the number where it is. I’m willing to spot the points today with the Bulldogs.