Xavier vs. Butler: Former Conference Rivals Face Off Inside Hinkle Fieldhouse

No. 8 Xavier Musketeers at Butler Bulldogs
Wednesday, 12/7/11, 9:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Xavier -6
Current Betting Line:  Xavier -6
Opening Total:  127
Current Total:  127
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Xavier Muskeeters guard Tu Holloway is one of the best players in the nation

Xavier comes in with a perfect 6-0 record and off a 66-63 come-from-behind win over the Purdue Boilermakers as 3.5-point home favorites.  The Musketeers trailed by 19 points with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest, which is when senior guard Tu Holloway decided to take things over in leading the largest comeback in Cintas Center history.  “You’ve watched me do that for two years,” commented Holloway about scoring 13 points over the final five minutes.  His exploits made him the ESPN.com National Player of the Week, averaging 22.5 points in two games.  Xavier is 5-1 ATS as a road favorite of 3.5 to 6 points the last two-plus years.

The Musketeers lead the all-time series, 29-16, including a 51-49 win over Butler last season at Centas Center as two-point favorites.  The last two games in the series have been decided by a total of three points.  Two of Xavier’s players are from Indianapolis, which should make this a special treat, as junior Jeff Robinson and freshman Justin Martin are coming home.  Xavier has one of the best backcourts in the country with Holloway and junior Mark Lyons, who is averaging 17.3 points per game.

Butler is set to face its second top-10 opponent inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, coming in off a 77-71 loss to the Valparaiso Crusaders as 5.5-point home favorites.  The Bulldogs shot a season-low 34.3 percent and didn’t make head coach Brad Stevens happy in missing 10 layups.  “The layups are really disappointing,” commented Stevens after the game.  The program is 3-5 against teams ranked in the top 10 under his direction.  Butler is 0-4 ATS in non-conference action this year, but 22-15 ATS in this situation since the 2009-10 campaign.

The Bulldogs have created a great homecourt advantage during Stevens’ time on campus, posting a 60-7 record in Wednesday night’s venue.  For the third consecutive year, Butler was picked as the preseason favorite in the Horizon League, picking up 468 total votes, which was just ahead of the Detroit Titans (453).  Senior guard Ronald Nored will have to control the game to give his team a chance, averaging 5.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game.  He also managed to score a career-high 17 points against the Crusaders.

Bettors will likely back the Musketeers due to their 6-0 ATS mark on the road, while the Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS after a straight-up loss.

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