Wednesday College Basketball Betting: Providence-Butler, Illinois-Northwestern
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ayo Dosunmu and Miller Kopp
With Providence-Butler and Illinois-Northwestern providing intriguing first-round matchups, let’s breakdown where the value sits in each game.
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Betting Odds: Providence Friars vs. Butler Bulldogs
- Spread: Providence +1
- Over/Under: 136
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: Fox Sports 1
The No. 8 seed Friars (14-17 against the spread) underwhelmed in Big East play, but they’re set up for redemption at Madison Square Garden.
Providence has allowed the lowest 3-point scoring rate (29.5%) in conference play, led by their underrated ball pressure around the perimeter. On the flip side, the No. 9 Bulldogs (12-18-1 ATS) have tallied the fourth-highest perimeter scoring percentage (36.4%), but they combined to shoot 28.2% from 3-point land in their losses — straight-up and ATS — to the Friars.
Look for Ed Cooley’s troops to give Butler plenty of issues from around the arc yet again. Although its point guard Kamar Baldwin (17.5 points per game) is proficient at attacking the rim, along with going off for 27 points in their first meeting, Makai Ashton-Langford’s sound on-ball defense should hold him in check.
At the other end, Providence thrives off getting to the line, accruing the Big East’s highest free-throw rate (37.2%).
Given how Providence’s offense struggles in spurts, Alpha Diallo (16.1 ppg) and Isaiah Jackson’s (9.6 ppg) prowess for attacking the lane has been the catalyst in sustaining some rhythm. The Bulldogs are allowing the third-highest free-throw rate (37.0%) in league play.
Since the new Big East formed before the 2013-14 season, Providence has manufactured at least one conference tourney victory in all but the 2016-17 season. With some key matchups in the Friar’s favor, I expect that trend to continue on Wednesday night.
THE PICK: Providence +1
Betting Odds: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats
- Spread: Illinois -2
- Over/Under: 136.5
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- TV: Big Ten Network
These programs split their two regular season meetings, but the Fighting Illini’s straight-up win in the most recent matchup proved why the Wildcats will struggle once again. Illinois’ elite ball pressure forced Northwestern into all sorts of first-half chaos in its half-court sets, leading to a 12-point halftime deficit.
Chris Collins’ unit won the second half against the spread, en route to a five-point loss for the game, but Illini guards Trent Frazier and Andres Feliz (three steals) should give the point guard-less Wildcats (13-16-2 ATS) issues once again.
Northwestern is also producing the 32nd-lowest eFG% (46.9%) in the nation and their leading-scorer Vic Law (15.0 ppg) is listed as questionable with a leg injury.
Overall, Brad Underwood’s crew owns the 20th-highest opponents’ turnover percentage (22.3%) in Division I, leading to the highest Adjusted Tempo (70.2 possessions per 40 minutes) in Big Ten play.
With the Wildcats allowing the second-highest 2-point scoring rate (55.3%) during their league slate, expect Illinois to expose them inside via its transition opportunities and with the 6-foot-9 Giorgi Bezhanishvili in the low-post.
Northwestern is yielding the third-highest free-throw rate (34.5%) in Big Ten play, too, another area Illinois’ guards should be able to expose off the dribble.
THE PICK: Illinois -2