(6) Butler v. (11) Texas
Time: 2:45 PM ET
Spread: TEX -2
Betting odds c/o Bovada
Butler is the higher seed here, but Butler is not the favorite. Early college basketball live lines at Bovada showed the No. 11 seeded Texas Longhorns as 2-point favorites over NCAA tournament darling Butler, in a game that will air at 2:45 on CBS.
The Longhorns finished the season with a losing conference record, winning just 8 of 18 in the Big 12. Comparatively, Butler fared quite well going 12-6 in the Big East, but it ended the season with a disappointing loss to Xavier after having knocked off No. 24 Providence on Mar 7. The Bulldogs finished the season 4-2 against AP ranked opponents, which bodes well for its tournament prospects.
Wins over North Carolina, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Providence helped put some accents on what could still be another special season for Butler faithful. In the heartbreaking OT loss to Xavier, Butler was outscored 14-8 in overtime, and lost the game despite strong games from Andrew Chrabascz, Kellen Dunham and Alex Barlow.
Barlow scored 22 points and came up with four steals. The Bulldogs also finished with a plus-3 edge on the boards due to Kameron Woods pulling down 14 caroms, five of which came on the offensive end. The 6’9” senior is averaging nearly 10 boards per game this season while putting up 7.8 points per game in 30 minutes a night. Dunham leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 16.7 points per game and he’s knocked down 73 three-point field goals this year. His three-point shooting prowess could help Butler upset some teams.
Along with Dunham, Barlow has also knocked down another 56 triples, and is the fourth-leading scorer and one of four Bulldogs to see over 30 minutes per game. Butler lacks depth in a major way, and is going to have to help Woods out a lot more on the glass to have any chance of contending with the bigger and tougher teams in this tournament.
What team will that be problematic against first? The first opponent, of course. Texas ranked 8th in the nation in rebounding this season pulling down 39.7 rebounds per game. It helped shore up a spotty offense which shot the ball just 43.6 percent from the field.
Texas is led by Isaiah Taylor, Myles Turner and Jonathan Holmes.
Taylor really needs to put up big number in this tournament. To that end, the diminutive playmaker has been consistently unspectacular, having scored 10.8 points per game over his last 5, the most crucial stretch of the season, of course. In the 69-67 loss to then-No. 13 Iowa State on Mar 12, he shot just 5 of 16 from the field, which was only slightly worse than the 5 of 12 he threw up against Texas Tech.
The Longhorns need Taylor to shoulder a large load offensively, and not without creating for teammates. He dished out 4.6 assists per game in 31 minutes a night, which is solid, but the Longhorns are going to need him to continue dishing it like he has in his last three games, when he has notched six assists per. For as strong a team as Texas is, and though it is favored, it’s difficult for bettors to resist the urge of Butler in this one.