Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#789 BYU vs.
#790 Butler
Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 6:30pm EST
Written by Chris King

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We have the consolation bracket matchup of the Battle 4 Atlantis when a member of the WCC takes on the Big East on the college hardwood down on an island paradise. The BYU Cougars are the “road” team as they take on the Butler Bulldogs Thursday evening. BYU battled but fell short 82-76 against USC in their first-round matchup Wednesday afternoon, losing outright as a two-point favorite. Butler was walloped 71-45 by Tennessee in their opening-round matchup and failed to cover as a 7.5-point underdog in the contest Wednesday night. This marks the first time that the two programs have met on the hardwood.

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BYU Cougars Seek to Regroup After Loss to USC

BYU battled but couldn’t keep up with USC’s offensive attack in the opening round of the tournament, dropping them into the consolation bracket here. The Cougars dropped to 3-2 on the season after seeing their two-game win streak snapped. Against USC, BYU trailed 7-0 less than two minutes into the game before rallying to slice the deficit to one at the half. The Cougars were within two with 15:52 to play before giving up an 11-0 run to go down 52-39 with 12:12 remaining. They never got closer than six the rest of the way en route to the loss. BYU shot 42.4% from the floor, including 12 of 32 from three-point range, and turned the ball over 17 times in the loss. Spencer Johnson led the Cougars with 18 points and four assists in the loss.

The Cougars are putting up 72.8 points a game so far this season, putting them 211th in the nation in scoring offense. BYU is grabbing 42.4 boards per game (15th) and dishes out an average of 13 assists a night. The Cougars are average on the defensive end as they are 185th in the nation with 71.4 points per game allowed this year. Foussenyi Traore is second on the team this season as he puts up 11.4 points plus seven rebounds per contest. Spencer Johnson (12.6 points, 4.4 rebounds) and Gideon George (11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds) are solid secondary scorers. Rudi Williams (10.4 points, 3.6 boards, 3.6 assists), Noah Waterman, Jaxson Robinson, Atiki Ally Atiki, Richie Saunders, Dallin Hall and Trey Stewart are all key contributors for coach Mark Pope. BYU shoots 43.1% from the floor as a team. The Cougars sink 8.2 three-pointers per game while shooting 31.1% from downtown. BYU is struggling so far at the free throw line, sinking just 64.4% of their chances this season.

Butler Bulldogs Try to Put Together Better Showing

Butler started the year 3-1 under Thad Matta but they were overmatched by Tennessee’s swarming defense, dumping them in the consolation bracket. The Bulldogs dropped to 3-2 on the season and hope to avoid falling back to the .500 mark here. Against Tennessee, Butler led 5-0 out of the gate and 10-4 six minutes into the game. The Bulldogs still led by five with under four minutes to play in the first half before giving up a 14-0 run spanning both halves to trail 32-23 with 19:18 to play. Butler got within two at 36-34 with 14:45 to play only to get buried with a 17-1 run that left them down 53-35 with 9:37 remaining. They never got closer than 14 again. Butler shot 31.9% from the field, including five of 23 from three-point range, and committed 23 turnovers in the loss. Jayden Taylor led the Bulldogs with 18 points and four steals in the loss.

The Bulldogs put up an average of 76 points per game on the season, which puts them 36th in the nation in scoring offense. Butler pulls down 34 rebounds per contest and dish out 15.6 assists per contest. The Bulldogs are 33rd in scoring defense as they allow 60.2 points per game this season. Chuck Harris is second on the team with 13.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists a contest. Jayden Taylor (15.4 points, 4.4 boards), Simas Lukosius (12.2 points, 4.6 boards, 3.2 assists), Manny Bates (11.6 points, 7.8 boards) and Eric Hunter Jr. (11.6 points, 3.4 assists) are off to good starts. Pierce Thomas, Myles Tate, D.J. Hughes and Connor Turnbull all are looked at to contribute. Butler shoots 49.7% from the field as a team on the season. The Bulldogs knock down an average of 7.8 triples a night while hitting 33.6% from beyond the arc. Butler is mediocre at the charity stripe as they sink 69.9% of their chances this season.

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Butler has struggled against teams that are strong on the defensive end of the floor, as we saw in losses to Penn State and Tennessee. The Bulldogs don’t have that issue here as BYU is a middle-of-the-road team on that end of the floor. We just saw BYU give up 82 points to USC in the opening-round matchup and Butler has a capable offensive attack to work with here. The Bulldogs’ offseason additions of Bates (NC State) and Hunter Jr. (Purdue) from the transfer portal has bolstered their rotation. Seeing BYU struggle shooting the ball offensively and having their issues defensively, give the advantage to Butler here.

Prediction: Butler Bulldogs -1.5

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BYU enters this game having seen the over post a 3-2 mark in their five games in relation to the total. The Cougars do run at a fast pace as they are 44th in the nation in tempo with 72.4 possessions a night this season according to KenPom. BYU’s problem, in addition to mediocre shooting, is that they turn the ball over at a ridiculous rate: 25.1% of their possessions end in a miscue, putting them 349th in the country in that department and negating that they are 47th in offensive rebounding percentage as they collect boards on 35.1% of their misses. Butler comes into this game having seen the under go 3-1-1 in their five games this season despite their offensive numbers. The Bulldogs are 36th in effective field goal percentage (56.3%), 18th in two-point shooting (60.2%) and 204th in turnover percentage (19.6%) this season. Butler is a faster-than-average team in tempo as they are 124th in the nation according to KenPom with 70.1 possessions a night. The Bulldogs can score and with both teams playing at a fast tempo, this game winds up over the number.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Chris King , "Chris King"

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.