NCAA Basketball Picks: Butler Bulldogs vs. Saint Louis Billikens

No. 9 Butler Bulldogs at Saint Louis Billikens
Thursday, 1/31/12, 9:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS Sports Network
Opening Point Spread:  Saint Louis -2
Current Betting Line:  Saint Louis -2
Opening Total:  122.5
Current Total:  122.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Saint Louis Billikens lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring defense entering Thursday night's action
The Saint Louis Billikens lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring defense entering Thursday night’s action

Butler will renew a former conference rivalry when it visits St. Louis at Chaifetz Arena, as it comes off an 83-71 victory over the Temple Owls as six-point home favorites, while going OVER the posted total of 129.  The Bulldogs will be playing on the road for the fourth time in six Atlantic 10 Conference games, while they’ve gone 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 Thursday affairs.  Offensively, the team has four starting players averaging in double figures, with senior Rotnei Clarke leading the way in scoring 16.7 points per game.  Butler is 6-0 ATS in its last six road games, which can’t be ignored when making your NCAA basketball picks Thursday night.

The Bulldogs are 11-16 all-time in this series, but have won three of the last four meetings.  Butler’s last win on the road in this series came on Jan. 9, 1991, while it has tallied a 4-8 mark in that situation overall.  Clarke is fourth in the conference in scoring, while senior Andrew Smith is fourth in shooting 57.5 percent from the field.

Saint Louis has won consecutive games since dropping two in a row, including a 67-57 victory over Saint Bonaventure as three-point road favorites last time out, while going UNDER the total for the first time in three contests.  The Billikens will play the highest ranked opponent in their history when playing at this venue in this contest, which is something to consider when looking over the college basketball odds page.  Defensively, the team leads the conference in allowing just 57.8 points per game, including a recent streak of holding four consecutive foes to 46 or fewer points.  Saint Louis is 5-2 ATS following a straight-up win.

The Billikens have a balanced offensive attack, with seven players averaging 7.0 points or more per game, while three are managing double figures.  Senior forward Cody Ellis leads the group in scoring 11.2 points per game despite not having a single start.  Offensively, the squad ranks fifth in the league in knocking down 35.5 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc, with junior guard Mike McCall Jr. doing a lot of the damage.

Sports bettors will likely back the Billikens due to their 4-0 ATS mark following a spread victory.

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