#14 Butler Bulldogs (12-2) at St. Joseph's Hawks (8-4)
We check the betting odds at 5 Dimes Sportsbook and instantly, I fall in love with this game. St.Joseph's is an actual 1.5 point favorite in this game simply because they're playing on their home court. Nevermind the fact that Butler has beaten North Carolina, Northwestern, and Indiana, who were ranked number 1 in the country at the time.
Over the past couple of years, Butler has flown under the radar and been an overachiever in the NCAA Tournament. To St.Joe's credit, they did have an early season victory over a top 25 ranked team in Notre Dame, 79-70 in overtime. That said, they also were crushed by Xavier by 29 points in early December!
Inter-conference games bring out an extra competitiveness in a team and that's possibly what odds makers can be thinking here. Butler makes their Atlantic 10 debut with their leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke, in a major funk. In his last 2 games, Clarke has averaged just 5 points per game on a dismal 2 of 18 from the field. Butler can't be feeling too confident about Clarke at the moment in such a big spot and will need the support of freshman Kellen Dunham and leading rebounder, Khyle Marshal
Dunham has shown a great consistency on the offensive end for a freshman, scoring in double figures in 6 out of his last 7 games while is an efficient shooter and solid defender in his limited time on the court. That said, look for Rontei Clarke to break out of his slump. He's far and away the best player on the Bulldogs roster and inter-conference Atlantic 10 play should bring out the best in him.
St. Joesph's will attempt to break Butler's 9 game winning streak with guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway. Galloway is the most consistent player on this basketball team, scoring in double figures in all but 2 games this season.
He's coming off of a 16 point effort in which he scored 16 points and played the entire game. Galloway logs a lot of minutes, but shooting efficiency is the only concern while leading scorer Carl Jones is capable of putting up the monster game occasionally. He lit up Iona for 32 points just 2 games ago but was then brought back down to earth with an 0 for 7 performance against Fairfield.
Along with the rebounding of Halil Kanacevic, the Hawks two leading scorers need to play well at the same time in order to have a chance against Butler.
I really like Butler in this game. They're battle tested against the elite teams in the nation and will make a splash as they look to make their mark in the Atlantic 10. The Bulldogs should be favorites. This one is a no-brainer for your basketball betting.
NCAA Basketball Free Picks: Butler +1.5Good luck with all of your Sports Picks this week!