As expected by most NCAA Basketball handicappers, Creighton is not finding life in the Big East easy without Dougie ‘Fresh’ McDermott. What's the best bet for tonight's matchup against Butler?
The Bluejays (12-14, 10-14 ATS) are tied for last place in the conference at 3-10 (5-8 ATS) with Marquette and are a shadow of what the program was, having lost nearly two-thirds of their points from a year ago. Despite the disappointing season, Creighton has big plans for this contest against nationally-ranked Butler, which will be on FS1, for their first ever “Better Together Blue Out” game at First National Bank Court at CenturyLink Center.
Butler (18-7, 14-9 ATS) is off an excruciating 68-65 home loss to Villanova as two-point underdogs in what was a fantastic basketball contest. The two teams went at it hard for 40 minutes, but Bulldogs defensive lapse allowed the Wildcats to nail a three-ball with 1.5 seconds remaining in a tie game.
Anyone studying the NCAA Basketball odds knows having just one day off after such a brutal loss and having to play on the road is a real challenge. Coach Chris Holtmann has to make sure one loss does not carry over into two as they try to improve their NCAA tournament resume.
Butler Needs to Bring Effort
Sometimes shots do not fall, but as anyone making NCAA Basketball Picks and reviewing the betting odds knows, effort can overcome bad feelings and help and club get into a flow.
What coach Holtmann will attempt to do is feed leading scorer Kellen Dunham (16.8 PPG) and versatile Roosevelt Jones (12.8) to force Creighton to commit guarding the perimeter or inside.
Butler coaches and players understand they were very fortunate to knock off the Creighton in the last meeting, escaping 64-61 as nine-point home favorites in spite of 33.3 percent shooting.
Creighton Seniors Stepping Up
After three remarkable years, Austin Chapman (10.3) and Rich Kreklow (7.7) have been instrumental in the Bluejays winning three of their last five in Big East action as seniors. Their leadership and guidance will matter again as Creighton fights to have a positive record and earn a berth in a minor postseason tournament. These two seniors are used to winning and want to close their careers in the best possible way and an upset at Omaha would certainly go a long way towards that direction.
What the Numbers Suggest
Sportbooks posted Butler as 3.5 point favorites on the early line and by this morning it was -2.5 with a total of 130. The Bulldogs, like many teams, see a drop in scoring and shooting percentage when they play on the road compared to at home and Butler’s is rather significant, down 8.6 points a contest and connecting on only 38.7 percent (season average of 44.3% in all games). Butler is 2-1 SU and ATS as away faves, winning by five points a contest.
Creighton shot a season-high 54.9 percent in victory over Marquette Saturday, but in their prior outing, they had made only 35.7 percent and as those continually making NCAA Basketball picks understand, chances are the Bluejays are most likely to be very close to season norms of 67 points, connecting at 41.1 percent. Creighton is 1-1 SU and ATS as home dogs.
What to Look for and Selection
Later on yesterday, Butler learned starting forward Andrew Charbasez (third in scoring and second in rebounding) broke a bone in the hand and will miss two to four weeks. This really matters to the Bulldogs since his numbers speak for them themselves and he’s started every game since last season.
Creighton received 19 points out of Kreklow against Marquette and will need similar numbers to engineer the upset.
While the loss of Charbasez hurts Butler, they do have other players who step up and for one game they can overcome this and I will call for the Bulldogs to squeak by Creighton to win and cover.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Butler -2.5 at Pinnacle