NCAA Basketball Picks: Back Butler To Cover ATS vs. No. 1 Villanova

Jason Lake

Friday, February 19, 2016 7:53 PM GMT

The Villanova Wildcats are the best team in college basketball. But should they be laying 12 points to the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday's NCAA Basketball odds board?

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Butler +11
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 19: 5-5 ATS, 1-1 Totals

So you wanna play with the big boys? The Butler Bulldogs do. After reaching the National Championship game in back-to-back seasons, Butler made the move from the Horizon League to the new Big East in 2013. Of course, the Big East isn't what it used to be, but the Bulldogs (18-8 SU, 12-13-1 ATS) are still thriving in a conference that includes established programs like Georgetown and Marquette.

Oh, and Villanova. The Wildcats (23-3 SU, 13-11-1 ATS) are the best team in Division I thus far, sitting at No. 1 on the AP and coaches polls, as well as Ken Pomeroy's advanced stats. Villanova already has one victory over the Bulldogs this year; they'll try again this Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at the Pavilion, where the 'Cats have opened as 12-point home faves on our NCAA Basketball odds board.

 

Pocket Calculator
Okay, that's got to be too many points. Villanova checks in at +22.4 on the Simple Rating System at Sports-Reference, and Butler is third in the Big East at +16.7 SRS. Plug those numbers into your vintage TI-30, give the 'Cats 3.5 points for home-court advantage, and presto, you get a kayfabe spread around Villanova –9.

Not much to report on the injury wire for either team, so it looks like you'll have to pay a premium if you want to put Villanova in your NCAA Basketball picks this week. These things happen. But the 'Cats have won all five of their previous meetings with Butler at 4-1 ATS, including last month's matchup in Indianapolis, where Villanova prevailed 60-55 as a 4.5-point road chalk. Hmmmm.

 

Slow Teens
Perhaps this larger spread is warranted after all. Pomeroy doesn't seem quite as convinced about the Bulldogs, ranking them No. 43 overall (No. 16 offense, No. 130 defense) in Division I. That's just two spots ahead of the Creighton Bluejays, who check in at +13.1 SRS over at Sports-Reference. Dang it, why do they have to make my job so difficult? Multiple sources mumble grumble.

We're inclined to give the underdogs the benefit of the doubt. Twelve points is a lot of points in college basketball, and these two clubs are among the slowest in Division I ahead of March Madness. Villanova ranks No. 287 out of 351 Division I teams in adjusted tempo on the Pomeroy charts; Butler's a little less glacial at No. 186, but slow nonetheless.

In fact, if you're not feeling the profit margin in this point spread, you might want to consider the UNDER for a small wager. We don't have any totals yet for this matchup at press time, so we'll stick with Butler here at the ranch, but consider all your options before punching your virtual ticket at any online sportsbooks, and may the sphere be with you.