The Friday night College Basketball slate is on the light side, but we still have several appealing matchups to consider for handicapping purposes. Included on that list is a showdown of Big East rivals, both of whom are undefeated in conference play thus far.
The Butler Bulldogs, ranked 6th in the nation in the latest poll, head to Providence to take on the Friars. Both squads have been playing really well of late. The visitors enter tonight’s contest having won five in a row, while the hosts are riding a four-game winning streak of their own.
It’s still early in the season, but these two squads are in a bottleneck at the top of the Big East standings, along with Seton Hall. Tonight’s matchup will give us further clarity on the pecking order in what shapes up to be a competitive conference race. Let’s take a look at this intriguing matchup in full detail, starting with the current game lines.
Butler Bulldogs vs. Providence Friars, 9 PM EST, FS1
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Butler vs. Providence Pick:
The Bulldogs were last in action this past Saturday when they welcomed Creighton to town. They were 4.5-point favorites at tipoff. Kamar Baldwin dropped 20 points for Butler in a game that was never in doubt as they picked up a 71-57 win. The victory marked the team’s 5th in a row overall and third straight to open up conference play and to push the overall record to 14-1.
The Friars last played on Tuesday night. It was a trip to Marquette as 5.5-point underdogs, but the game would turn out to be much closer than that. Overtime was needed to decide things, and Providence managed to escape with an 81-80 win behind 19 points from Maliek White. The victory was the team’;s 4th in a row, the last two of which have come by a single point on the road.
Butler opened up the season strong with nine consecutive wins. Seven of those victories came by double digits. They were pushed to the limit by Stanford over that span, escaping with a 1-point win. The streak was snapped with a 53-52 road defeat to Baylor. The Bulldogs have gotten right back on track and won another five straight, four of them by 10 or more points.
Providence has been up and down thus far, but the club has gotten it together with four straight wins. The team opened up at 4-4, losing the last three over that span. A 2-2 stretch followed, but the team has been unblemished since a December 17 blowout loss to Florida. The club’s last two victories have been nail biters as they exited with back-to-back 1-point road wins.
The Friars have the edge on offense on a points per game basis, but the Bulldogs are the stronger overall shooting team. Butler boasts a stronger defense, but Providence does a better job of getting after the ball. Over the five-game winning streak, the Bulldogs have scored 60 or more each time and allowed more than 60 just once. The Friars have put up 66 points or more over the four-game winning streak.
Baldwin leads the way in scoring for Butler with an average of 14.7 points per game. Sean McDermott is the only other player in double digits with an average of 11.8. Bryce Nze leads in rebounding with 7.1 per contest, while Aaron Thompson is tops in assists at 5.3. Six Bulldogs players are averaging 20 minutes or more per game, led by Thompson with an average of 33.0 per contest, followed by McDermott at 31.7.
Alpha Diallo is the leading scorer for Providence with an average of 13.6 points per game. David Duke is next up at 11.8 per contest. Diallo leads in rebounding with an average of 8.9 per game, while Luwane Pipkins is the team leader in assists at 4.2. Diallo is also tops in steals and blocks. For the rotation, four Friars are averaging 20+ minutes per game. Diallo leads the way at 32.4, followed by Duke at 30.1.
Providence holds a dominant edge of 8-2 in recent meetings with Butler. They’ve won the last three in a row as well, all of which took place in 2019. The Friars were home for the last two and covered each time, once as an underdog and twice as the favorite.
For the season to date, the Bulldogs are 11-4 against the spread and 4-11 on the Over/Under. The Friars are 7-9 ATS and 8-8 on totals.
Since 2017, Butler is 4-3 straight-up as a road favorite and 2-5 ATS. Providence is 3-3 overall as a home underdog over that span and 3-3 ATS.
This is an intriguing matchup between two clubs that are playing really well of late. Butler has been a force all season, while Providence has turned things around after an up and down start.
Despite the disparity in overall records, the matchup itself is close. The Bulldogs have the shooting and defensive edge, while the Friars are putting more points on the board and have home court advantage. The Friars have dominated the recent head-to-head series as well. Add it all up, and oddsmakers see it as close to a toss-up.
On an overall basis, Butler is just the stronger squad with the deeper rotation. They get the win and cover to remain at the forefront of the Big East.