NCAA Tournament Midwest Region: (8) Texas Tech vs. (9) Butler

The Butler Bulldogs are 4.5 point favorites in its opening game against Texas Tech.
The Butler Bulldogs are 4.5 point favorites in its opening game against Texas Tech.

8 TTU vs 9 BUT
Time: 11:40 AM CT
Spread: BUT -4.5
Total: 147

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

Texas Tech finished the regular season 19-12 with a 9-9 mark in the Big 12. The Red Raiders most recently fell 67-62 to TCU in the first round of the Big 12 conference championship. Texas Tech will face the No. 9 seeded Butler Bulldogs, and Butler is 4.5 point favorites in the game with an over/under set at 147 according to college basketball oddsmakers on 5dimes.

In the loss to TCU, both Justin Gray and Zach Smith each had 13 points but the Red Raiders allowed the Horned Frogs to shoot 10 of 21 from three point range while also TCU also held a +7 advantage on the boards. Can Texas Tech have a better showing against a tough Butler team, though?

The Red Raiders are ordinarily led by a quartet of talents all averaging 10 or 11 points per game: Toddrick Gotcher, Devaugntah Williams, Aaron Ross and Smith. Gray also averages 8.7 points per game, but Texas Tech is really a team without a standout talent. The balanced attack works well enough, as the Red Raiders averaged 72 points per game as a team this season while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three.

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Gotcher is a 6’4” senior guard who has seen his role increase steadily each season at Texas Tech. He had just nine points on 3 of 10 shooting in the loss to TCU, but in the 80-71 win over K-State on Mar. 5 he had 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and a block in 37 minutes of play. So he can be a game changer, even if he is inconsistent. His best game in recent play came against then-No. 2 Kansas on Feb. 27 when he had 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting with five threes made in the 67-58 Red Raiders win.

Williams is another senior that brings the experience to this team. He is a 6’4” guard who has blossomed further as a sophomore. He averaged 10 points per game last season as a freshman, but this year his efficiency has fallen off a little. Even so, his influence is vital, and he has been poor lately. He had 20 points in the win over K-State but totaled just 14 points the three games prior and he closed the season with a 2 of 8 shooting night against TCU.

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Williams needs to come around, but his 38 percent shooting should raise hairs because the Red Raiders rely heavily on his scoring. Against K-State he was 6 of 9 from the floor and 8 of 12 from the line while also snagging four rebounds and dishing three assists. Williams is needed at his best, because his off nights can be horrendous.

Butler finished the season 21-10 and finished No. 4 in the Big East. The Bulldogs closed the season with a Big East tournament loss to Providence, falling 74-60 in the quarterfinals. Kelan Martin had 13 points and 10 rebounds while Kellen Dunham scored 17 points and hit five threes as Butler shot 10 of 21 from three as a team. Even so Butler was just 37 percent from the field in total. The Bulldogs did do a number of things well in the game, including out-rebound Providence by a margin of three.

Dunham is averaging 16.3 points per game this season while shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 42.8 percent from three-point range. Martin is also averaging 16.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 28 minutes a night. Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Chrabascz both round out the Bulldogs’ double figure scorers.

Dunham is a 6’6” senior guard who has been a strong three-year starter at Butler. He averaged 16 points or more each of the last three seasons and he has averaged over two threes per game over that entire span as well. Dunham had 17 points on 5 of 12 shooting in the loss to Providence, but he had a huge night against Georgetown on Feb 27 when he had 29 points on 9 of 18 shooting while also collecting five rebounds and two assists.

Martin is a 6’6” sophomore forward with a big 235 pound frame and a propensity to mix it up. He shot 45.2 percent from the floor on 12.6 shot attempts per game but also knocked down 1.4 threes per game and came up with 1.20 steals/blocks per game.

Between Dunham and Martin the Bulldogs have the punch to put teams away, but this 8/9 matchup is going to be a close thriller in all likelihood. Butler deserves to be favored though with a couple of premier talents capable of taking over against a team comprised of basically all role players.

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