Round of 32 Betting Action: Butler Bulldogs vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

butlerButler vs. Notre Dame
Time: 9:40 PM ET, TBS
Spread: ND -4
M/L: ND -190; BUT +161
Total: 134

Betting odds c/o Bookmaker

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.

Early college basketball odds at Bookmaker showed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as 4-point favorites over Butler, with an over/under set at 134.

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.

In its second round matchup against No. 11 Texas, the Bulldogs got a big game from Kellen Dunham, who scored 20 points an inefficient night of 5 of 14 shooting. The difference maker was his 11 free throw attempts as Butler got to the line for 28 free throws to Texas’ dozen. Neither team shot over 34 percent from the field, but Butler turned the ball over just five times while forcing 15 on Texas—and that really was the difference maker.

Notre Dame finished the regular season 29-5 with a 14-4 mark in the ACC. It drew the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region and a second round matchup with No. 14 Northeastern. Early NCAA basketball live odds showed the Fighting Irish as 12.5 point favorites with the over/under set at 141 for the game which will air on CBS.

Notre Dame closed its season in impressive fashion, notching a 90-82 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Championship game. The Irish went on a late run, outscoring UNC 26-3 in the second half spurt as Jerian Grant came through with a big 24-point game for the Irish. All five starters scored in double-figures and the Irish also got 20 points from Pat Connaughton on 4 of 5 three-point shooting, as the Irish hit 10 of 20 from distance in the game and got to the line 32 times to knock down 28. Those two features alone are going to make Notre Dame very tough to contend with, because it can rely on easy points from the stripe and consistent three-point shooting (yet without being necessarily a “live and die by the three” kind of team).

The Irish are deadly accurate from distance, nonetheless, knocking down 39 percent as a team. Connaughton alone hits 43.6 percent , while ranking second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game. Grant leads the way with 16.8 points per game, and he’s also dishing out an outstanding 6.6 assists per contest. The 6’5” senior guard had struggled somewhat before the UNC contest, having scored 13 points or less in three of his previous four games prior to the outing. Not only did he tally 24 points in the win over North Carolina, but he also dropped 10 dimes while committing just two turnovers.

On the season, Grant’s been good for a 3.3:1 assist/turnover ratio, and that well composed play should definitely bode well for the Irish. He’s experienced, steady and a good scorer—all basically three traits that are prerequisites from a floor general if a team is to advance deep in March.

Notre Dame escaped by the skin of its teeth in the 3 vs. 14 matchup against Northeastern. Despite leading by four at the half, that remained the final margin as Northeastern fought tough in the second half. Forward Zach Auguste carried the team offensively, knocking down 10 of 14 shots and scoring 25 points in 27 minutes of play. The Irish barely went to its bench at all, only subbing in a few for short breathers for its starters. The stellar shooting of the starting five and need to ensure this would not be an upset kept the reserves placed firmly on the pine.

The Irish in typical fashion shot a high percentage (57), while assisting on 19 of its 27 baskets. The high efficiency should bode well, though Pat Connaugton is going to need more looks at the basket. He took just seven shots despite playing the entire contest, and only managed to launch three triples (hitting one). If Butler can manage to keep him in check while getting quality looks for Dunham and Barlow, this is a slight upset. Moneyline betting odds on Butler opened at +161.

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