After a very pleasant Sunday of NCAA Basketball picks, we'll try to begin this week on a winning note, too. We could only come up with one contest we feel worthy of a wager on Monday.
Bulldogs Battle Bluejays in Big East
Before this season started we weren't exactly sure what to make of either Butler or Creighton. We figured both were headed for middle-of-the-pack finishes in the Big East. But so far the Bulldogs have exceeded expectations, while the Bluejays have struggled. Hoping to avoid a mis-step that might harm it's NCAA tournament chances Butler visits Creighton Monday night.
Back in the Groove
Not a whole lot was expected out of Butler this season, after going 14-17 last season, just 4-14 in conference play, but it did return some experience, and that always counts for something in college basketball. And so far the Bulldogs have put that experience to very good use; they're 14-9 ATS, and have perhaps played their way back into the NCAA tournament.
Butler recently won five games in a row, and had covered six out of seven spreads, but Saturday the Bulldogs lost a tough one at home to conference-leading Villanova 68-65 on a 3-pointer with one second left. That game was tight throughout, but Butler allowed the Wildcats to hit 12 of 26 shots from 3-point range, including the game-winner.
Now, a basketball handicapper has to ask himself this; how does a loss like that affect a team, especially its next time out? One can never be sure. But our guess is Butler's kids, like most other kids, have short memories, and all will be forgotten by the time they reach the locker room tonight.
At 8-4 in conference play the Bulldogs sit in second place in the Big East, two games behind first-place Villanova. At 18-7 overall, with a very nice RPI and a good strength-of-schedule, Butler also appears a pretty good bet at the moment to return to the Big Dance.
What a Difference a Season Makes
Creighton, meanwhile, is struggling this season, but few can blame it, after losing most of the team that won 27 games last season. They are the underdogs in tonight's NCAA Basketball odds. The Bluejays actually started 9-3 this season, with a win over Oklahoma, but then lost nine games in a row. Creighton has since won three of its last five games, after beating Marquette Saturday 77-70. The Jays shot 55 percent from the floor Saturday, and made eight of 17 three-pointers.
At the moment Creighton is doing the roller-coaster thing; three weeks ago it lost at Villanova by 21 points; it then beat St. John's by a bucket; it then got blown out at home by Georgetown, then bounced back to upset Xavier in overtime; it then lost at St. John's by 18 points, before winning Saturday. If recent form holds we expect the Bluejays to go down tonight.
Big-picture, at 12-14 overall and 3-10 in the Big East Creighton is simply going through a rebuilding season.
The Bottom Line
Butler will be without one starter tonight, after F Andrew Chrabascz broke a bone in his hand Saturday, but it's still the better team in this match-up. Also, the Bulldogs took the first meeting this season between these teams last month 64-61, even though they shot just 34 percent from the floor and made just four of 20 shots from beyond the arc. Had they shot the ball a little better – they also missed eight of 24 free-throws – they might have come a little closer to covering the spread that night as nine-point favorites.
For tonight, we believe Butler will shoot the ball better than in the first meeting, while Creighton might be ripe for a letdown, after giving a good effort its last time out. We like the Bulldogs tonight for our NCAA Basketball Pick at the short spread.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Butler -2.5 at Bookmaker