Butler vs. Xavier: Big East Conference Tournament Odds & Picks: Bet the Total With Struggling Offenses (Wednesday, March 10)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Freemantle.
- Two struggling offenses meet on Wednesday in the Big East Tournament when Butler takes on Xavier.
- The Musketeers need to pad their NCAA Tournament resume and will likely have to do so in an ugly game against the Bulldogs.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down why he sees great value on the game total from Madison Square Garden.
Butler vs. Xavier Odds
Xavier looks to bolster its tournament resume when it takes on Butler in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night.
It has been a terrible season for LaVall Jordan’s men, who finished the regular season with a 9-14 record and second-last in the Big East. The Bulldogs have dealt with a mountain of injuries that have clearly taken a big toll. They got swept by Xavier in the regular season and will have their hands full on Wednesday.
Xavier is the definition of a bubble team right now and needs a few wins in the Big East Tournament to earn an at-large bid. The Musketeers have stumbled down the stretch, losing five of their last seven games and need to right the ship against Butler.
When Butler has the ball
The Bulldogs are one of the worst offenses in the Big East, averaging 0.95 points per possession in conference play. They struggle in pretty much every area offensively, especially from 3-point range, where they’re shooting a dismal 31.7. Butler is also second-last in offensive rebound rate and 2-point field goal percentage.
All that together means the Bulldogs’ offense is an easy one to contain.
In the two matchups against Xavier this season, Butler failed to break the 60-point mark and averaged only 0.83 points per possession. The Musketeers held them to under 20% from 3-point range and under 43% from 2-point range.
Butler has been playing without a lot of its key players this season, including Aaron Thompson, Bryce Nze, JaKoby Coles, and Bo Hodges. The Bulldogs have had to rely on freshmen Chuck Harris and Myles Tate for most of the season. Given the fact that Butler hasn’t been able to figure out Xavier and are going to be shorthanded once again, I have a hard time seeing how they’re going to drastically improve on offense.
When Xavier has the ball
The Musketeers have been really struggling during Big East play, averaging only 1.01 points per possession. They flat out stunk against Marquette on Saturday, averaging 0.91 and 4-of-24 from 3-point range. Xavier’s 3-point shooting is the reason it’s struggling offensively, as it’s only hitting only 28.4%, which is worst in the Big East.
Not to mention the Musketeers have been without their best 3-point shooter, Nate Johnson, for the past few games. It’s hard to see how Xaviers improves with him potentially on the sidelines since he was shooting over 45% from deep.
However, most of Xavier’s scoring comes from inside in the form of Zach Freemantle, who is averaging 16.2 points per game. The Musketeers shoot 52.7% from 2-point range and an insane 67.1% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math. Going inside is exactly how you beat this Butler defense, since it has the worst post defense in the Big East.
Despite its horrific offense, Butler is actually pretty solid defensively, ranking 59th nationally in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Bulldogs’ paint defense is truly their only weakness, so Xavier will have to do most of their scoring inside.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Both games between these teams were incredibly low-scoring, as neither made it over 125 points. The reason for that is because of terrible offense and a slow tempo. Xavier plays a very average tempo compared to most of the country, while Butler ranks 316th, per KenPom. I’d imagine Butler will try and slow down the tempo to its liking.
I only have 130.25 points projected for this game, so I think there is some value on under 133.5 points or better.
Pick: Under 133.5 points or better