East Region Betting Picks: #6 Butler Bulldogs vs #11 Bucknell Bison

2013 NCAA Tournament East Region – Second Round
#6 Butler Bulldogs vs #11 Bucknell Bison
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 12:40 pm Eastern, TV: tru TV
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Kentucky
Opening Line: Butler -3 1/2
Current Line: Butler -4
Opening Total: 123
Current Total: 122
Opening Money Line: Butler -165 / Bucknell +145
Current Money Line: Butler -165 / Bucknell +145

Butler is a 3.5 point favorite over Bucknell in the East region second round in Lexington, Kentucky.
Butler is a 3.5 point favorite over Bucknell in the East region second round in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 26-8 Butler Bulldogs are making their 6th trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last 7 years, after missing last year’s event. Butler played in two straight national championship games before that, an amazing accomplishment for a small school like Butler. After years in the Horizon League, Butler moved to the Atlantic 10 this year, and reportedly will join the new Big East along with Xavier and Creighton. Butler was tied for third in the Atlantic 10 with Temple and LaSalle with an 11-5 record. All three teams were behind 13-3 Saint Louis and 12-4 Virginia Commonwealth. The #5 seeded Bulldogs lost to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 semifinals 67-56 last Saturday.

In the NCAA tournament, the #6 Butler Bulldogs will take on the #11 seeded Bucknell Bison in the East region second round at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. The winner will face the winner of the #3 Marquette-#14 Davidson match-up Saturday. Bucknell is 28-5 on the season and won the Patriot League with a 12-2 record. The Bison finished 2 games ahead of both Lafayette and Lehigh at 10-4. Bucknell beat Lafayette 64-56 in the Patriot League championship last Wednesday. The Bison have won 7 straight games. Butler and Bucknell have never played each other before.

Butler is coached by Brad Stevens. The Bulldogs have losses at Xavier, to Illinois in the championship of the Maui Invitational, at LaSalle, Saint Louis 3 times, Charlotte, and at VCU. Butler has key wins over Marquette  and North Carolina in Maui, Ball St, at Northwestern, Indiana in Indianapolis, Evansville, at Vanderbilt, Penn, and Gonzaga. In conference, the Bulldogs have wins over St. Joseph’s, Dayton twice, Richmond, Temple, Rhode island, St. Bonaventure, George Washington, Fordham, Duquesne, Umass, Xavier, and LaSalle. Butler is 18-13-1 ATS and the total is 15-13 this season.

Butler is outscoring teams 69-64 this season. The Bulldogs are shooting 45.3% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. Butler makes 68.9% of their free throws. The Bulldogs average 36.7 rebounds per game and give up 26.4 per game. Butler is #13 in rebounds allowed nationally. Bulldog opponents are shooting 41.8% from the field, and 33.3% from 3 point range. Butler averages 13 assists, 6 steals, 2 blocks, and 13 turnovers a game.

Guard Rotnei Clarke averages 16.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. Center Andrew Smith averages 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Forward Roosevelt Jones averages 10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Guard Kellen Dunham averages 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. Khyle Marshall averages 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Kameron Woods, Erik Fromm, Alex Barlow, and Chase Stigall makes up the rest of the rotation. None of them scores more than 4.6 points per game. Barlow leads the team in steals with 1.2 per game. No Butler player averages more than 0.6 blocks per game.

Bucknell is coached by Dave Paulsen. The Bison have losses at Penn State, at Princeton, at Missouri, Lehigh, and at Lafayette. Bucknell has key wins at Purdue, George Mason, at Niagara, New Mexico St, Dartmouth, at Columbia, Kent State, LaSalle, and at Cornell. In conference, Lehigh, Lafayette, and Army were the only other schools with winning records. The Bison split with Lehigh and Lafayette and swept every other team. In fact, they beat Army and Navy 3 times each. Bucknell is 2-4 ATS this season, and the total is also 2-4. Patriot League games usually aren’t on the board.

Bucknell is outscoring teams 67-58 this season. The Bison are #14 in points allowed nationally. Bucknell is  shooting 45.6% from the field and 36% from 3 point range. The Bison make 74.5% of their free throws. Bucknell is #28 nationally in free throw percentage. The Bison average 36.2 rebounds per game and allow 26.6 per game. Bucknell is #19 in rebounds allowed.  Bison opponents are shooting 37.8% from the field and 31.1% from 3 point range. Bucknell is #7 in opponent’s field goal percentage. The Bison average 13 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks, and 9 turnovers.

Center Mike Muscala averages 19 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. Guard Cameron Ayers averages 12.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Guard Bryson Johnson averages 11.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Joe Willman averages 10.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Ryan Hill, Ryan Frazier, and Steven Kaspar also get significant minutes but none scores more than 2.9 points per game.

Bucknell is 1-3-1 ATS in neutral site games, 2-7 in non-conference games, 1-4 overall, 2-9 against teams with winning records, and 0-6 after a straight up win.

Butler is 4-1 ATS in Thursday games, 12-3 after failing to cover, 16-5 in NCAA Tournament games, 5-2 in non-conference games, 7-3 after a straight up win, and 35-16 in neutral site games.

Bucknell has played a tough schedule and will not be intimidated by playing Butler. The Bison are a better defensive team and both teams score in the high 60’s. The key will be if Butler’s Smith can contain Bucknell’s Muscala. If Muscala goes off, then Bucknell has an excellent chance at pulling off the upset.

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