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Friday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Buffalo-Marquette, UC Irvine-Butler

Dec 21, 2018 8:36 AM EST
Credit:

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Markus Howard

A pair of impressive mid-majors face off against Big East programs, as undefeated Buffalo travels to Marquette for a top-25 matchup after UC Irvine duels Butler.

Which sides present more value? Let’s break down the games.


>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.


UC Irvine at Butler

  • Spread: Butler -8.5
  • Over/under: 132.5
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FS1

The Anteaters (8-4 against the spread) are contenders in the Big West because of their 36th-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and it sets up well against the Bulldogs’ attack.

Their defense has let up the second-lowest two point percentage (41.1%) in the country, and their size advantage should give Butler (4-7 ATS) fits inside despite Lavall Jordan’s squad owning the 62nd-highest percentage in that department.

UC Irvine’s route to success is abnormal but effective, with Russell Turner running a nine-man rotation and each piece playing at least 15.8 minutes per game. Led by Elston Jones and Collin Welp, the Anteaters should control the glass to keep the game tight. They’ve generated the 60th-highest block percentage in the country, too, forcing the Bulldogs’ perimeter-oriented offense away from the rim.

Plus, UC Irvine has amassed the 50th-highest Offensive Rebounding Rate, allowing its 109th-ranked 3-point shooting (35.9%) to collect clean looks with the opposition out of position. Butler has struggled defending looks from behind the arc as well, giving up a 35.9% clip overall.

According to our Bet Labs data, the Anteaters are 4-7 (36.4%) ATS when they’re getting at least 8.5 points over the past two campaigns. Expect that to improve tonight.

THE PICK: UC Irvine +8.5

Buffalo at Marquette

  • Spread: Marquette -2.5
  • Over/under: 153.5
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FS1

The Bulls (7-2-1 ATS) are fresh off a 12-point win at Syracuse, in which Buffalo coach Nate Oats referenced his team being an underdog postgame. Whether or not Oats secretly bet the line, he’ll deliver bulletin board material once again before squaring off against the Golden Eagles (6-4-1 ATS).

But similar to UC Irvine against Butler, Marquette has the advantage defensively via its 44.4 opponents’ Effective Field Goal Percentage — good for the 25th-lowest in the nation. The Bulls don’t shoot the ball particularly well from deep (33.1%), but the 50th-highest two-point shooting team (55.5%) will be in for a test against the Golden Eagles’ 35th-lowest two-point defense (44.6%).

Steve Wojciechowski’s crew has an underrated frontcourt with the Hauser brothers, Theo John and Ed Morrow, and I’m expecting them to effectively challenge Nick Perkins and Jeremy Harris inside. To top it off, Marquette owns the 31st-highest Defensive Rebounding Rate in the country, and its size edge should win out.

Although Buffalo has racked up the 20th-ranked 3-point defense (27.5%) in college basketball, Marquette will be able to find space for its shooters by playing inside-out through Sam (14.7 points per game) and Joey Hauser (10.2 ppg). The duo even shoots it at a 41.1% and 40.0% clip on 3s, respectively.

Golden Eagles point guard Markus Howard (23.2 ppg), who’s accrued 34th-highest Usage Rate among Division I players, can create space for himself and attack the lane. His scoring battle with Bulls guard C.J. Massinburg (17.9 ppg) could determine the winner in what should be a tightly-contested affair.

THE PICK: Marquette -2.5

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