Xavier Musketeers (13-3 SU, 9-6 ATS, 7-8 O/U) vs. Butler Bulldogs (14-3 SU, 10-5 ATS, 6-7-2 O/U)
NCAAB: Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Butler Bulldogs -4.5. Total: 142
The Xavier Musketeers will be hoping to get back on the winning track when they visit the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. Xavier had won six games in a row before falling at Villanova on Tuesday. The Bulldogs saw a three-game winning streak of their own snapped earlier this week when they lost at Creighton.
No-show against ‘Nova
The Musketeers flopped in their first true test of Big East play, as they got clobbered at Villanova 79-54 earlier this week. Xavier was a disaster offensively, shooting a mere 29.3 percent from the field and 6-of-32 (18.8 percent) from beyond the arc. Their top two scorers, Trevon Bluiett (17.2 ppg) and Edmond Sumner (15.4 ppg) combined for a paltry 21 points on 5-of-25 shooting. Edmond Sumner led the way for the Musketeers with 11 points, but made only three of 15 shots and he exited briefly in the first half after appearing to injure his left shoulder.
“He’s fine,” head coach Chris Mack said of Sumner. “….I think.”
Butler leading scorer Kelan Martin finished with just seven points on a miserable 3-of-14 shooting performance in the team’s loss at Creighton on Wednesday. Martin is averaging 16.8 points per game this season, but he has been in a slump ever since the start of conference play. In Big East contests, he is averaging 12 points on 30 percent shooting. Martin also did not have much help against Creighton, thus compounding the Bulldogs’ problems. Senior Andrew Chrabascz had a season-low two points in 27 minutes. Butler as a team is averaging just 73.2 ppg in in conference competition.
With their offense struggling, the Bulldogs must rely on defense. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. They rank second in the Big East in scoring defense, allowing 69.2 points per contest. Then-No. 1 Villanova managed a mere 58 points against Butler in the defending champions’ loss last week.
The Xavier Musketeers are:
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games against teams with winning records
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games against teams with winning percentages over .600
The Butler Bulldogs are:
- 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 overall
- 8-2 ATS in their last 10 home games
- 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games against the Big East
Xavier has now lost both of its games against ranked opposition this season, having also fallen to Baylor 76-61 during the non-conference slate. The Musketeers have given up at least 76 points in each of their last three contests. They cannot afford to do the same against Butler, because points are tough to come by against the Bulldogs. Xavier is 2-5 ATS in its last seven on the road and 2-5 ATS in its last seven on the road against opponents with winning home records. The Bulldogs are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 overall, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 at home, 11-4 ATS in their last 15 against the Big East, and 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven following a loss. Look for those trends to continue.
Pick: Butler Bulldogs -4.5
Xavier has quite simply been generous on the defensive end of the floor this season. The team can be stingy against weaker competition, but it has not fared well against the tougher opponents. Butler certainly qualifies as the latter. The Bulldogs do not set the world on fire offensively, but they have five players averaging at least 8.4 points per game. The over is 9-2 in the Musketeers’ last 11 agains the Big East and 4-1 in their last five on Saturdays. It is also 5-2-1 in the Bulldogs’ last eight overall, 7-3-1 in their last 11 against the Big East, and 4-1-1 in their last six following a loss. Expect this one to go over the total.