Xavier vs. Butler: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (1/7/22)

Xavier vs. Butler Betting Odds

The latter of our Friday night Big East doubleheader will feature the Musketeers and the Bulldogs.

Xavier might be the best team in the conference. The Musketeers are now 11-2 with five KenPom top-100 victories. However, Xavier most recently dropped a tough game at Villanova, dropping its stock.

Meanwhile, Butler has been underwhelming. The Bulldogs have played a very tough schedule, and they have a win over Oklahoma to show for it. But LaVall Jordan’s team is 114th in adjusted efficiency and has been blown out in two of their past three games (77-48 to Purdue, 71-56 to Seton Hall).

Butler is catching over five points at home in this one, which is a very enticing bet. But do the Bulldogs have the juice to cover that spread?

Xavier Musketeers Odds

The Musketeers are a grown-man basketball team.

6-foot-5 Paul Scruggs is the Musketeers highest-usage player while running the point as the shortest man in the rotation. Meanwhile, Iowa transfer and 7-footer Jack Nunge is tearing apart the Big East after being overlooked as a Hawkeye.

The Musketeers are physical and imposing on the interior, ranking top-30 in 2-point defense, block rate, and defensive rebounding rate. You just can’t set up an interior offense against this team.

However, as the most perimeter-oriented offense in the conference, Villanova dominated Xavier in a 13-point home win.

The Musketeers managed a measly 57 points in that game, which brings up the biggest issue with this team: Offense.

Paul Scruggs can be great, but he’s recorded just a 92.7 ORtg this season and leads an offense that’s sub-200 in turnover rate. Head coach Travis Steele likes to shoot, but Xavier doesn’t have a lot of shooters.

It’s a bit clunky in Cincinnati, but the defensive prowess has produced an 11-2 record. There’s nothing to complain about as a Musketeer fan.

Butler Bulldogs Odds

Everybody knows what Butler does: The Bulldogs grind the game to a hault and play defense.

The Bulldogs are among the bottom-15 teams nationally in tempo and average length of possession. They defend the perimeter aptly, ranking top-100 in defensive turnover rate and 3-point defense. But the interior defense leaves more to be desired.

Maybe because the Bulldogs are simply undersized. The frontcourt rotation runs at 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-6, with a back-up center standing 6-foot-7. The Bulldogs are a rather solid rebounding team given how short they are, but ranking 270th in 2-point defense won’t cut it in the Big East.

It’s worth noting, however, that Butler likes to force 3-point attempts. The Bulldogs are top-50 in opponent 3-point rate, and given they can defend that area, that strategy works well. Coach Jordan is trying to play to his strengths.

The Bulldogs are led by Chuck Harris, who comes off the bench and plays combo-guard. He’s averaging 10.6 points per game. The only other double-digit scorer for Butler is his back-court companion Jayden Taylor, who is at 10.5.

Butler needs more résumé wins, period. Other than the huge win at Oklahoma, the Bulldogs have dropped every big-time opportunity. That included three straight games against Michigan, Houston, and Texas A&M.

While opportunities are plenty in the Big East, it’s up for debate how many bids the league will earn.

Xavier vs. Butler Prediction and Pick

My pick: Xavier -5.5 (-110 at BetMGM)

As much as I want to bet the Bulldogs as a home dog, I simply can’t do it.

The Bulldogs are 1-5 against the spread as an underdog this season, including 0-2 as a home dog. The idea that Butler will defend and be frisky hasn’t been true this season.

Meanwhile, Xavier is 6-3 against the spread as a favorite so far this season

Plus, Butler is so undersized in this matchup, it’s going to play right into Xavier’s strengths.

Xavier will dominate on the interior and yet again cover when laying points.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

Hot College Basketball Stories