The Butler Bulldogs and Xavier Musketeers meet at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati on Sunday evening. This is a Big East battle with little implications on the top of the standings. Butler goes into Cincinnati with an overall record of 7-12 and 6-10 in the conference. They are tied with Marquette for ninth in the Big East, and only better than DePaul.
Disappointment is certainly an understatement for Butler, who continues to live on the reputation of their past. They were three points away from beating Duke and winning the National Championship in 2010. The following year, Butler went back to the National Championship and lost again, this time 53-41 against UConn.
Almost a decade later and Butler is trying to stay outside of the Big East basement. The Bulldogs are just trying to finish off this season strong and head into the offseason with some momentum. Butler is coming off a beatdown against a very vanilla Marquette team on Wednesday. Marquette is not having a typical season, and Butler were small favorites in that one at home.
The Bulldogs definitely did not play like favorites, though. Not when you lose 73-57 at home against a weak Marquette squad. The loss was the second in a row, which also includes a 78-63 loss against Georgetown on February 13. After the win over St. John’s on February 9, 73-73, there was a glimmer of hope that Butler could build up some momentum.
Xavier is going into Sunday with a record of 11-4 and 4-4 in the Big East. It’s within reason that the Musketeers could pull off an upset in the Big East Tournament. I don’t think it would be that outlandish, but Villanova and Creighton are both going to be big obstacles to overcome. Xavier can win, though they are going to need some breaks to go their way.
The Musketeers are coming off a 93-84 loss against St. John’s on the road on Tuesday. St. John’s are no slouches either, so there’s good talent to be had in the Big East this season. Xavier goes into Sunday on a two-game skid after a loss against UConn, 80-72, prior to their loss at St. John’s. Head below for our free Butler vs. Xavier pick on February 21, 2021.
Butler Bulldogs vs. Xavier Musketeers NCAA Betting Odds:
Butler vs. Xavier Prediction:
Butler are losers in five of their last seven games, and at this point, they have to dig deep to find motivation to give a full effort. We’ll see if a trip to Xavier can get them going. They were on a small two-game winning streak before hitting the skids again. Butler beat Depaul 68-58, and then followed up for a 76-73 win over St. John’s in overtime on February 9. I don’t know how impressive a win over hapless Depaul is, but the victory against St. John’s was certainly a good look for the Bulldogs.
That’s a rare spot where Butler has looked good in 2020-21. In their best win of the season, they defeated Creighton, 70-66, in overtime on January 16. Despite a couple of good spots for Butler, they’ve scored an average of just 63.4 points per game for 329th in the NCAA. Butler has managed to shoot 41.1% from the field.
That is good for 305th in the country. The Bulldogs’ struggles on the road extend on the road, where they’ve netted 60.8 points per game through eight games. Defensively Butler has done their best to hang tough, but 70 points allowed per game as a visitor isn’t going to work when the offense is this anemic.
Against a weak Georgetown and Marquette squad recently, Butler scored just 63 and 57 points in losses. When they hosted Xavier on January 30, the offense was even worse with 55 points scored, as the Musketeers pulled away for an easy 68-55 win on the road. Xavier has one of the best offenses in the Big East, and ranks in the top-50 in the country. The Musketeers have scored 77.9 points per game for 47th.
Xavier’s defense lags behind, with an average of 70.9 points against per game. However, it doesn’t matter against a team like Butler. It clearly does when they play St. John’s, Villanova, and Creighton, though those offenses are lightyears ahead of the Bulldogs. The line here should probably be bigger in favor of Xavier. I was thinking somewhere in the ballpark of -11 or -11.5, but -8.5 looks too low. That leaves us with some value on the Musketeers.