(9) Butler Bulldogs (-4, 147 o/u) vs (8) Texas Tech Red Raiders
With no. 1 Virginia likely waiting in the second round, the Butler Bulldogs (21-10, 16-14-1 ATS) and Texas Tech Red Raiders (19-12, 15-13 ATS) aren’t likely to last the weekend. But they’ll both try to keep the dream alive when they meet tomorrow at PNC Arena in Raleigh in first-round action (11:40 AM Eastern).
Butler has become a March Madness mainstay lately, making the tourney in eight of the last ten years. The team had a three-game winning streak going entering the Big East tournament, but were bounced by Providence in their first game (74-60).
While the old adage is that defense wins in March, head coach Chris Holtmann will look to the Bulldog offense to get the team back on track. Butler averages 80.6 points per game, 22nd in the nation, led by guard Kellen Dunham (16.3 PPG) and forwards Kelan Martin (16.1 PPG) and Roosevelt Jones (14 PPG).
The trio will have to be on its game if Butler is going to approach its 80-point average. The Red Raiders don’t score a lot of points (72.4 PPG), but defend well, holding opponents just under 70 points per game this year. They were just 9-9 in conference play, but the Big 12 was the best conference in the nation, statistically, and they own impressive wins over Iowa State, Baylor (road), and Oklahoma.
Butler enters the game as a four-point favorite. They’ve generally won the games they should win this year, going a solid 21-12 ATS as a favorite. The Red Raiders are a brutal 3-13 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games.
Pick: Butler (-4).
(Photo credit: BIG EAST Conference (YouTube): https://i.ytimg.com/vi/nNZeNi6b7zA/maxresdefault.jpg.)