The madness is about to begin! The #11/#6 game between Butler and Texas should be a doozy and we've got our top college basketball picks for the game inside.
Despite being the higher seed, the Bulldogs will enter Thursday afternoon's game as the underdogs on the NCAA Basketball odds board. Current lines show Texas favored by one and a half points, so there isn't really much in it.
If it's a total play that you want to focus on, you'll have to wait a little longer. The O/Us have yet to have been made public, but we don't anticipate seeing a very high number.
The Bulldogs may have fallen short in the Big East tournament, losing in the first round to Xavier, but they still got love from the committee. They were handed the sixth seed and will be taking on Texas in the first round in what's sure to be one of the most competitive opening games of the tournament.
It's hard to ignore Butler's overall body of work. The Bulldogs secured some great wins throughout the season, including notable victories over North Carolina, Georgetown (twice), St. John's and Providence among others. They ended up 22-10 overall with a 12-6 conference mark, though they'll certainly want to fare better than they did in the Big East tournament.
The talent in undoubtedly there for Butler to make some noise in the Big Dance. Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Chrabascz are all averaging in double figures, while Kameron Woods has been a formidable presence inside, averaging 7.8 PPG and 9.8 RPG.
The dream was cut short for Texas in the Big 12 tournament, as they looked on helplessly as Monte Morris' jumper went in at the buzzer to give Iowa State the win in the quarterfinals. The Longhorns then had to patiently wait to see if they would get a bid into the NCAA Tournament, and in the end they received an #11 seed in the Midwest region. It's not going to be an easy ride for Texas by any stretch of the imagination, with Butler waiting on deck in the first round.
Looking at the Longhorns' season, they went 20-13 overall and a very disappointing 8-10 in conference play. Yes, they picked up some nice wins over the likes of Baylor, West Virginia and Connecticut, but there was very little consistency to the team's performances throughout the season. To summarize, there were far more shortcomings than there were successes for this group. Still, the Longhorns will be ecstatic to be taking part in the NCAA tournament and will be liking their chances of a first-round "upset" in a game they're actually favored in.
Individually, Texas will be leaning on Isaiah Taylor, Myles Turner and Jonathan Holmes. Taylor averaged 13.0 PPG, 4.6 APG and 3.3 RPG, while Turner, Holmes, Cameron Ridley and Connor Lammert all pulled down at least five rebounds per game on average. That helped the Longhorns rank eighth in the nation in total rebounding, which could prove to be an advantage on Thursday.
NCAA Basketball Pick
We're going to keep this short and sweet. The Bulldogs are the better team, and so we're going to be siding with them with our NCAA Basketball picks as we expect them to advance to the Second round to race the winner of Northeastern vs. Notre Dame.
We just haven't been impressed with Texas this season, with the Longhorns disappointing more often than not. They ended the regular season playing some good ball, but prior to that they were really struggling to find any kind of rhythm against some of the better teams in the Big 12.
So, when push comes to shove, we look for Butler to prove their superiority and secure their spot in the next round of the tournament. The college basketball odds may not be on their side, but we expect the Bulldogs to grab the win and please their backers in the process.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Butler Bulldogs +1.5 at Pinnacle