Butler vs. Xavier
Betting Pick: Butler +6.5 -110 odds (December 7th 2011)
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This is a difficult spot for Xavier as it enters this game coming off comeback wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, the latter coming at home over the weekend. While Butler is a ‘name’ program, the Musketeers may have one eye looking forward to this weekend when it takes on cross-city rival Cincinnati. This is just the second true road game for Xavier and while the first was a big win at Vanderbilt, it almost did not happen as the Musketeers rallied big for that victory.
Butler is definitely not the same team were are accustomed to following two straight trips to the championship game. However, the Bulldogs are still very good and sitting at 4-4 is no reason for distress as we only have to look back to last season as they started with the same 4-4 record. Another postseason run is unlikely but Butler is a couple missed free throws away from being 6-2 and those games resulted in two overtime setbacks. One of those early losses last season came at Xavier, setting up a solid revenge situation.
Surprisingly the Bulldogs are going for their first victory over a nationally ranked foe at Hinkle Fieldhouse since 2009 and we do not even need the outright win here. Butler is getting a great number and of course this is based upon the early season results. What isn’t showing however is the fact that will be Butler’s sixth opponent that is ranked in the top 40 so it has been another tough early season schedule. With upcoming games against Purdue, Gonzaga and Stanford, this has turned into a big one for the Bulldogs.
Xavier is just 1-0 on the road but Butler is 10-1-1 ATS in its last 12 home games against teams with a road winning percentage of greater than .600 and it is 22-8 ATS in its last 30 games against teams with an overall winning percentage of greater than .800. As underdogs, the Bulldogs are 19-9 ATS in their last 28 times in that role with the average scoring differential dead even in those games. Meanwhile, the Musketeers are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 non-conference games. 3* (780) Butler Bulldogs -Matt Fargo
Wichita State vs. Tulsa
College Basketball Pick: Tulsa +3.5 (December 7th 2011)
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I’m taking the points with Tulsa on Wednesday evening. The Golden Hurricane are 4-5 SU, but they’re a grand total of just 19 points away from a 9-0 mark. Tulsa has lost 5 games by 5 points or less. And the one time they lost by more than 4 points came in OT at Missouri State. Tulsa takes on another Mo-Valley opponent tonight when Wichita State comes to town. We had Wichita on these pages on Sunday and they rewarded us with an easy blowout win over UNLV. I stated in that contest that the Rebels were likely to be challenged on the perimeter like no other time so far this season. The Shockers brought their “A-game” and UNLV was flat from the opening tip. But Tulsa is “nasty” on the defensive end and they’re one of the toughest teams on the boards that WSU will face all season. Tulsa averages 39.7 rpg while holding their opponents to 26.4. They’re also stingy on the defensive end allowing just 60.4 ppg on less than 39% shooting. Unlike UNLV, Tulsa will look to deny in the halfcourt on the defensive end. They’ll force a deliberate tempo that I believe will frustrate the Shockers. Tulsa is a rather deep team with 8 players averaging between 15 minutes and 31 minutes played per contest and 3 of those players average in double-figures in scoring. Wichita State has covered just 7 of their last 22 outside of the Mo-Valley and I believe they’re in trouble in this one. I’m grabbing the points with Tulsa on Wednesday. Thanks & GL! Scott Spreitzer.
Minnesota vs. Appalachian State
Betting Pick: Appalachian State +16.5 -110 odds (December 6th 2011)
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Appalachian State should not be catching 16.5 points against Minnesota Tuesday. This is a solid team at 4-3, and they only have one loss this season by more than 13 points. Minnesota is 8-1 on the year, but the Golden Gophers have been fortunate to escape with numerous close victories. Seven of Minnesota’s eight wins have come by 16 points or less, with the lone exception being a 85-56 home victory over Mount St. Mary’s. The Gophers have played a very soft schedule thus far as they have yet to play a true road game. Minnesota is 0-8 ATS (-8.8 Units) after scoring 65 points or less 2 straight games over the last 2 seasons. The Mountaineers are 15-4 ATS in their last 19 games as a road underdog. The Gophers are 1-9 ATS (-8.9 Units) when playing against a marginal winning team (Win Pct. 51% to 60%) over the last 2 seasons. Take Appalachian State and the points.
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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Calgary Flames
NHL Pick: Under 5.5 -110 odds (December 6th 2011)
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The Flames are off a 5-1 loss to the Canucks. That marked their third consecutive game which finished above the total. I’m expecting a lower-scoring affair here though. We do have to “lay some extra juice,” in order to play “under 5.5″ However, I feel that price is still fair. In fact, given the offensive struggles of both these teams, the number could easily have been five. For starters, the Flames have seen the ‘under’ go a lucrative 67-48 the last 100+ times that they were off three or more consecutive games which finished above the total. More recently, note that the Flames have seen the “under” go 3-1-1 in this season’s “non-conference” games (24-14-3 L2+ yrs) and an even better 6-1-1 when coming off a divisional game. The Canes are off a 3-2 loss last game. They’ve now scored three or fewer goals in nine of their last 10 games. Over that 10-game stretch, they’re averaging only two goals. Not surprisingly, the “under” was 6-3-1 in those games. For the season, the Canes are averaging 2.4 goals. That’s actually more than the Flames, who are a managing only 2.3 per game, including a mere 2.1 here at Calgary. With Carolina’s last three visits here (1-0, 3-0 and 4-1) all falling below the total, consider the UNDER. -Ben Burns