NCAA Basketball Picks: Bucknell vs. Butler

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 1:07 PM GMT

The Butler Bulldogs have been incredible at covering the spread on a neutral floor the last three seasons, which gives them an edge against the Bucknell Bison Thursday.


Let’s take a closer look at the College basketball odds for this second-round matchup in the East Region, with the opening tip scheduled for 12:40 p.m. ET at Rupp Arena.

Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.

First go around

Butler enjoyed a solid first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference, which is an important handicapping angle in my opinion, as its coaching staff and players were facing new challenges in league play.

The Bulldogs suffered a 67-56 setback to the Saint Louis Billikens as 4.5-point neutral-site underdogs in the semifinal round of the conference tournament, with the UNDER cashing in six of their last 10 games overall.

Quite an accomplishment

Bucknell has just 3,500 students on campus, which makes it quite an accomplishment to reach the NCAA Tournament, as it earned its spot by winning the Patriot League title.  The Bison enter with a 28-5 overall record.

The Biston are 17-5 straight up (SU) and 8-11 against the spread (ATS) in all tournament games the last two-plus seasons.

Nothing neutral about it

College basketball handicappers are definitely aware of the Bulldogs’ success in this environment, which will make them a popular pick at the betting window, as they’ve gone 16-4 SU and 17-3 ATS on a neutral floor since the start of the 2010-11 campaign.

Butler is making its 11th NCAA appearance since 1997—providing the school national notoriety due to reaching back-to-back title games (2010, 2011) and making two other appearances in the Sweet 16 (2003, 2007).

You better get to know him

Mike Muscala is the type of player that can make some noise on the big stage, as the Bison senior center leads the country with 22 double-doubles, while he’s the only one in the field that has compiled 2,000-plus points and 1,000-plus rebounds in his career.

Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens will definitely have to game plan in stopping him, but his roster has already faced some of the best front courts in the country in wins over Gonzaga and Indiana.

[gameodds]14/225000/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Bulldogs as one of their NCAA Basketball picks Thursday, as the Bison are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games versus a team with a winning record.

Butler advances to the Round of 32 as long as starting center Andrew Smith stays out of foul trouble.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Butler Bulldogs -3.5 at Pinnacle