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One-Loss Butler Faces Streaking Providence as 1.5-Point Road Favorites; Friars 4-0 ATS in Last 4

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Updated Mar 26, 2020 · 8:17 AM PDT

Dunkin Donuts Center
Butler heads to Rhode Island to take on the Providence Friars tonight. Photo from Flickr.
  • One-loss Butler faces streaking Providence as  1.5-point road favorites Friday in an intriguing Big East matchup
  • The Friars are 4-0 ATS in their last four outings, including wins over Marquette and Georgetown
  • The Bulldogs are ranked No. 6 in the latest AP Poll and own quality wins over Florida and Purdue

The Butler Bulldogs (14-1, 2-1 away) face the streaking Providence Friars (10-6, 7-1 home) as 1.5-point road favorites Friday night. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Ed Cooley’s team is 4-0 against the spread in their last four outings, including wins over Marquette and Georgetown. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 6 in the latest AP Poll and own quality wins over Florida and Purdue.

#6 Butler vs Providence Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Odds
Butler Bulldogs -119 -1.5 (-107) O 126.5 (-115)
Providence Friars -101 +1.5 (-113) U 126.5 (-105)

Odds taken Jan. 9th

While you might think the Bulldogs would be bigger favorites in the Butler vs Providence odds due to the teams’ respective records, the Friars have been legitimate of late.

Even though Butler sits just outside the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds, the program is going off as +2800 favorites to win it. So how will this Big East contest shake out? Let’s look at some keys and make a pick.

History On the Friars Side

Providence has owned Butler in their short series history. The Friars have won three straight and gone 11-3 all-time against the Bulldogs, including an 80-57 win in the Big East tournament last year.

YouTube video

Providence also enters Friday’s game at The Dunk riding several ATS streaks. As noted above, the Friars are 4-0 against the spread in their last four outings (including a pair of one-point victories as an underdog to DePaul and Marquette) and 7-1 against the spread in their last eight home games.

Friday’s game figures to be a tightly contested one – and the 1.5-point spread reflects that.

Defense, Defense, Defense

Another reason why Friday’s game should be close: Butler puts the clamps down on its opponents. The team ranks fourth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 54.1 points per game to opponents. You need look no further than the Bulldogs’ last game for a master-class in perimeter defense. LaVall Jordan’s club limited Creighton to 4-for-22 shooting on 3-pointers in a 71-57 win.

YouTube video

St. John’s put up identical paltry numbers from beyond the arc in the game before that, a 60-58 Butler win. The Bulldogs are No. 5 in the KenPom.com defense adjusted efficiency ratings. Bottom line: this team can flat-out defend.

Who Will Score?

Someone has to put the ball through the hoop Friday. For Butler, that someone will probably be Kamar Baldwin. He’s averaging a team-high 14.7 points, and shooting 46.7 percent from downtown in road and neutral games.

For Providence, it’s Maliek White. In the last two games, the 6-foot-3 senior guard has posted 35 total points, seven rebounds, and six assists (one turnover). He is definitely riding a hot streak right now and could be a difficult matchup for Butler.

When you take into account series history, style of play and star players, this game is as close as it gets. That’s why I’m fading both teams and focusing on the total in this spot. The under has gone 5-1 in Butler’s last six games. Meanwhile, the under is 8-4 in Providence’s last 12 games against Butler. Those trends are too compelling to ignore.

Pick: Under 126.5 (-105)

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