NCAAM Pick December 16, 2020 – Butler Bulldogs at Villanova Wildcats

Normally a mid-week day like a Wednesday isn’t something to get overly excited about, but today’s college basketball schedule is packed with action! In total there are 46 games on the slate for today, with lots of exciting matchups. Top-25 teams like Ohio State, Villanova, Texas, and Duke will all play today, and we have several conference games that are sure to entertain.

Most leagues haven’t fully jumped into conference play as of yet, but we do have a smattering of league play games being played today. In the Big 12, TCU and Oklahoma State square off in a game between two surprisingly overachieving teams. In the Big 10, Ohio State and Purdue both play their league openers as they match up in West Lafayette.

The American Athletic Conference has three games being played today, including South Florida at Cincinnati, East Carolina at SMU, and Memphis at Tulane. The ACC also has a nice group of games scheduled today with Pitt at Miami and Duke at Notre Dame. Sadly, however, the games between NC State and Louisville and Virginia and Wake Forrest were both delayed. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to the Big East, where Villanova hosts Butler in a conference showdown.

Today’s Game

  • Butler Bulldogs (1-0) at Villanova Wildcats (5-1)
  • The Pavilion, Villanova
  • 4:00 PM PST
  • TV: FS1

The Villanova Wildcats kick off their Big East Conference schedule tonight as they host the Butler Bulldogs. The Wildcats were third in the preseason AP Poll, but dropped out of the top-10 after an early-season upset loss to Virginia Tech. Jay Wright has his team back inside of the top-10 this week, though, as the Wildcats have won back-to-back games over Texas and Georgetown. Villanova will look to make it three quality straight wins as they look to start their defense of last year’s Big East regular-season title.

For Butler, the Bulldogs are expected to be down this year, and with several Corona Virus related delays, they have played just one game. The Bulldogs were shut down after their season-opening win over Western Michigan as people inside their program tested positive for COVID-19. Butler is going to have to play some catch-up, and they are going to miss out on basically their entire non-conference schedule, but the Big East is loaded as usual, so there will be plenty of time for the Bulldogs to pick up meaningful victories this year, even with the limited schedule.

Spread:

  • Villanova Wildcats (-13.5)
  • Butler Bulldogs (+13.5)
Money line:

  • Villanova Wildcats (-1250)
  • Butler Bulldogs (+750)
Total Points:

  • Over 132.5 (-110)
  • Under 132.5 (-110)

Butler Bulldogs (1-0)

It’s easy to look at what Butler lost last year and expect them to struggle this year. The losses of Kamar Baldwin and Sean McDermott are certainly going to be felt. But if you remember, that’s what everyone was saying about Butler last season, and they surprised just about everybody when they won 22 games, including a whopping 15 against the top-100.

This Butler program hasn’t risen to the same heights under head coach LaVall Jordan as they did under Brad Stevens, but Jordan has won at least 20 games in two out of his three seasons running the program, and they were locks to go dancing last season had the tournament not gotten canceled.

Butler has a ton of experience returning as they have a starting five made up of all upperclassmen. Transfer Jair Bolden is on his third team after playing at George Washington and South Carolina and looked great in his first game with his new team as he scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Don’t sleep on this Butler team, they are absolutely going to be dancing in March.

Villanova Wildcats (5-1)

It seems like just about everybody is handing the Big East regular season title to Villanova this season. While that is very disrespectful to Creighton, amongst others, in what has become a perennial powerhouse conference year in and year out, I don’t blame people for being so high on the Wildcats. This ‘Nova team has it all, and they are mortal locks for a top-4 seed and a second-weekend appearance in the NCAA tournament.

The loss to Virginia Tech was a bit surprising, but the Hokies are likely quite a bit better than most people think they are this year. And the win over Texas was a great one, as Kenpom has had the Longhorns ranked as highly as 4th this year.

Speaking of Kenpom, they have the Wildcats ranked 3rd in the nation right now, with the 4th most efficient offense and the 28th best D. The Wildcats are never afraid of playing tough competition, and they already have a healthy resume with wins over top-100 teams like Boston College, Arizona State, Texas, and Georgetown.

Who Do I Like?

It would be absolutely shocking to see Villanova lose at home in this game. No disrespect to LaVall Jordan’s team, but Villanova just doesn’t lose at home very often. The Wildcats are deserving homecourt favorites, even if homecourt advantage hasn’t been as powerful as in year’s past, with the lack of fans in the stands. But man is +13.5-points a lot to give a quality basketball team like Butler!

Of those four top-100 victories on the Wildcats resume, none of them came by more than 13-points. In three of those games, they won by single digits. When you look back at last year, Kenpom shows us that only 11% of all Big East league games were blowouts. This is a competitive league, and teams just don’t go out and destroy each other, especially not when we are talking about teams that are probably going to be playing in the NCAA tournament. Six of those eleven blowout losses in the Big East last year were last place DePaul and Georgetown getting roughed up. This game is going to be competitive.

The Bet

I think Villanova wins this game, and they likely won’t sweat it much either. History tells us that Big East league games are going to be close and that we just don’t see quality teams get blown out very often. For Villanova to cover this spread, they would need to blow out Butler, and I just don’t see it happening. Yeah, the fact that Butler hasn’t played in a couple of weeks worries me, and I don’t love that they have played just one game this year.

But at the end of the day, I think Butler will do what they nearly always do, and that is go out and get in a dog fight in Big East play. Expect the Bulldogs to have some rust on them, and for Villanova to coast to the win in this game, but you can also count on Butler keeping it tight enough to sneak in a cover. Give me the Butler Bulldogs tonight and a whole bunch of points as they stay competitive with Villanova on the road!

The Bet: Butler Bulldogs +13.5

My Pick
Butler Bulldogs +13.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL