Big East Tournament Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Preview for Providence vs. Butler, Marquette vs. Creighton (March 10)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Kalkbrenner #11 of the Creighton Bluejays.
The first day of the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden brought plenty of drama as Butler staged a last minute comeback to take Xavier to overtime and then beat the Musketeers. Xavier may have played itself off the bubble with the loss and now the Bulldogs will get a third meeting with the league champion, Providence, on Thursday.
Here’s my thoughts on the two early Big East games in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Providence vs. Butler
- Spread: Providence -7.5
- Total: 128.5
- 12 p.m. | FS1
Providence won its first Big East regular season title in program history this season with a 14-3 record in the league, including two close wins against Butler. The Friars won at home by seven in January and then came back from 18 points down at Hinkle Fieldhouse in February to beat Butler by one in overtime.
Butler needed a late comeback and overtime to get past Xavier in the first round on Wednesday, and it’s a very quick turnaround for LaVall Jordan and the Bulldogs. Their game didn’t end until 7 p.m. ET on and now they have the noon tip on Thursday.
Providence is the eighth-most experienced team in the country, a well-coached group. They’re very good in close games because they shoot free throws well and Jared Bynum has been an excellent late game player down the stretch. Those are major reasons that the Friars are good in close games, but they have not been great at covering big numbers as favorites in the league.
The Friars offense is excellent in transition based on the metrics, but when they tend to struggle, it usually comes in the halfcourt. Providence ranks 75th nationally in transition ShotQuality, but just 189th in the halfcourt. It’s also outside the top 150 in perimeter shooting.
Given how slowly Butler plays and how well the Bulldogs force teams to play at their pace, it could cause some issues for the Friars to execute in the halfcourt.
The Bulldogs are catching eight and that’s a couple too many given that Providence closed as a three-point favorite in Hinkle Fieldhouse less than a month ago. Butler has been in a lot of games when Bo Hodges and Bryce Nze are healthy and I am expecting them to be in this one late.
The Pick: Butler +7 or better
Marquette vs. Creighton
- Spread: Marquette -3
- Total: 143.5
- 2:30 p.m. | FS1
Both Marquette and Creighton have faded a bit down the stretch of the season for different reasons. The Golden Eagles peaked in their consecutive wins against Villanova in early February, but Marquette finished the season 3-4 with zero wins away from home in that stretch.
Creighton had won six in a row and was playing its best basketball headed into March, but freshman star Ryan Nembhard suffered a wrist injury and will miss the rest of the season. They finished the season 1-2 with losses to Providence and Seton Hall and now have a difficult task offensively to create without him.
Marquette’s offense was the best in the Big East at converting from inside the arc this season, but now they’re facing off against the Big East defensive player of the year in Ryan Kalkbrenner in the middle. Creighton not only has the best interior defense in the Big East, but the Blue Jays are ninth in the entire country at protecting the rim.
Marquette also runs the sixth-highest frequency of ball screens and pick-and-rolls in the entire country, which plays right into a strength of the Blue Jays’ defense .
Creighton did win both regular season meetings, but one came by one point and the other in double overtime. And Nembhard played in both of those games. Both teams finished the season as generally pretty overrated based on ShotQuality and other metrics.
From a matchup perspective, both defenses have the edge with Marquette able to turn over Creighton — who has turnover issues to begin with and now is shorthanded in the backcourt. The Blue Jays interior defense should cause problems for Marquette trying to finish inside and the Golden Eagles won’t get many second chance looks.
The Pick: Under 143