Friday night’s college basketball betting lineup always leaves a lot to be desired, but at least the Big East is in action with a couple of games, and our focus is on the Xavier Musketeers paying a visit to the Butler Bulldogs.
Xavier Musketeers vs. Butler Bulldogs
Friday, January 07, 2022 – 08:30 PM EST at Hinkle Fieldhouse
The Big East will take a break from Friday matchups for about a month after Xavier travels to Indianapolis for this battle with Butler. Both the Musketeers and Bulldogs are looking to break away from the middle of the conference standings, and do so in a positive direction with each side beginning the league slate 1-1.
In terms of winning percentage, St. John’s sits atop the Big East with an unbeaten conference record. Of course, the Red Storm are all of 1-0 after having several league games canceled by the virus protocols, and it’s going to be very tough for them to upset the preseason NCAA futures odds that made Villanova the clear-cut favorite.
Underdogs Have Covered Four of Last Five Meetings
With Fox Sports 1 televising the contest, it will be easy to social distance during the uptick of COVID-19 cases by staying at home and saving money by drinking your own beer instead of going out on a Friday night. After being sent out as 6-point favorites, the Musketeers are giving up 4½-5 at the NCAAB odds board while the total is running 130-131.
This is one of those college hoops rivalries that sort of stay hidden despite Xavier and Butler having 67 previous meetings under their belts, the Musketeers owning a 43-24 advantage in the series. Geography is partly behind the two programs meeting regularly, along with the fact the Musketeers and Bulldogs are now competing against one another in their third conference.
While many conference opponents struggled to get in just one matchup during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 schedule, Xavier and Butler met three times. The Musketeers won and covered both regular-season matchups before the Bulldogs erased a huge deficit to pull off an upset in the opening round of the Big East Tournament. Butler was a 6-point underdog at the best online sportsbooks and rallied from 19 down to win 70-69 in overtime.
Xavier actually had an easier time with Butler when the two teams faced off at Hinkle than when the squads met in Cincinnati a season ago. The Musketeers were 2-point underdogs in Indianapolis where they led wire-to-wire for a 68-55 triumph. That matchup also followed a lengthy layoff for Xavier.
X-Men Hit Court for the First Time in 17 Days
It has been a tough couple of weeks for Travis Steele and the Musketeers who have been sitting idle since a loss at Villanova on December 21st. Xavier had games canceled against Connecticut and Georgetown because of illnesses within those programs, and the matchup that was supposed to take place earlier this week in DC against the Hoyas might ultimately become another COVID-19 victim.
In his weekly press conference, Steele talked about how his team has stayed busy practicing the last couple of weeks since the loss at Villanova. Xavier closed as a 5½-point underdog with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) in that contest, and came out strong to build a 10-point lead with about a minute-and-a-half remaining in the first half.
Everything fizzled at that point, however, and the Wildcats would eventually close the game on a 20-7 run for the 71-58 victory. The 13 turnovers, five of those early in the second half, along with poor shooting (21-52) were the chief culprits in the Musketeers’ defeat.
Butler 1-5 SU and ATS as the Underdogs
The Bulldogs are also coming off a loss, though it took place three days ago instead of 17 like Xavier’s last game. Butler started well but petered out early against Seton Hall on Tuesday, and head coach LaVall Jordan called the eventual 71-56 setback one of the Bulldogs’ more disappointing games of the season.
Butler was getting 3½, but that wasn’t nearly enough for a Bulldogs team that was beaten badly on the glass and lost the charity stripe game, 18-8. Jordan’s group has a busy stretch on the road following this game, with matchups at Georgetown, Villanova and UConn crammed into a 6-day span beginning next Thursday.
Will Xavier struggle following the long layoff, or will the extra practice have the team sharp and focused? That’s the $64,000 question, and while I don’t recommend laying that much on my college basketball pick, the Musketeers are my play.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.