Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:15 PM EST.
6:30 PM EST. On the surface, the #9 Golden Eagles are going to look like an appealing bet, as they are a ranked team taking back points on the road against a host that is just 3-5 in conference play. However, Marquette is a one-man show led by guard Markus Howard, who is averaging 24.6 points per game, but if you shut him down, the Golden Eagles are ill-equipped to compete, as they severely lack secondary scoring. To give you an idea of just how overvalued the Golden Eagles are, they are just the #35 ranked team on KenPom, which uses advanced stats to provide a more accurate reflection of where these teams really are. Because of that severe discrepancy, we must continue to attack Marquette when the situation is right and we believe that to be the case tonight.
This game between the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles has a similar flavor as last night's battle between Texas and Kansas. The Longhorns were small favorites at home against a highly ranked team and came away with a signature win and cover after a 73-63 victory. Now, while all things are not equal, as situational players, we must take a long look at Butler, as there is a damn good reason oddsmakers made the unranked Bulldogs the chalk here. Like most programs, Butler is a much better team at home than it is on the road, as its 9-2 record at Hinkle Fieldhouse will attest to. The Bulldogs have played a tougher schedule than the Golden Eagles, as KenPom ranks Butler’s non-conference schedule 99 spots ahead of Marquette's. Overall, the Bulldogs have played the 29th most difficult schedule in the nation, which means that their losses have come to some pretty damn good teams (Creighton, Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Florida, Indiana, Saint Louis and Dayton). Of their nine losses, six came by single digits and seven were contested either on the road or at a neutral site. Had a bounce or two gone its way, Butler would have a much better record than it does, but its deflated standing in the Big East, as well as the market, will serve us well here, as the Bulldogs are more balanced, they play great defense and have a ton of experience in knowing how to defend “one guy”. Butler will make someone else beat them and chances are, that’s not going to happen.
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#784 BUTLER -2½ -102 (Risking 2.04 units - To Win: 2.00)