NCAAM Pick December 23, 2020 – Providence Friars at Butler Bulldogs

Yesterday we got to see a couple of teams that aren’t on the national radar just yet, that I think are sneaky good. The first team I am going to mention that I think everyone needs to get on their radar, is the Knights of Central Florida. UCF has played a brutal schedule so far (SOS 5) and they have managed to go 3-1 despite the tough competition.

Yesterday the Knights knocked off Cincinnati at home, this comes just three days after they beat a 15th ranked Florida State team on the road. UCF also has a win over Auburn earlier this year to give the Knights three wins against the top-100.

The only loss on the year came in Ann Arbor against a ranked Michigan Wolverines team. The AAC is a quality league this year, and the Knights are flying under the radar at the moment, but you need to take notice, as this team can play. They make a lot of threes, they are good from the line, and they rarely turn the ball over. That is a recipe for success, and right now, this Knights team needs to be feared.

Another team that continues to impress is the Arkansas Razorbacks. For those of you that follow my college basketball coverage closely, you will know that I was very high on the Razorbacks coming into this season, and Eric Musselman’s team has not disappointed. Yesterday, Arkansas won their 8th straight game when they blew out Abilene Christian at home to stay undefeated on the year.

It is easy to point to the Razorbacks soft schedule (SOS 295) or to the fact that they have yet to play a game outside of Arkansas, as to why this team is winning so much, but the bottom line is that this team is really talented, well-coached, and they are going to be a force in the SEC this season.

Most expected teams like Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, and LSU to dominate the league, but right now, it’s Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, and Arkansas that are undefeated. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will take a look at another team that just might be better than most people think, when the Providence Friars head to Butler to play the Bulldogs in a Big East battle.

Today’s Game

  • Providence Friars (5-2) at Butler Bulldogs (1-3)
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
  • 3:00 PM PST
  • TV: CBSS

The Butler Bulldogs are looking to snap their 3-game losing streak tonight at home as they host the Providence Friars in a Big East Conference game. The Bulldogs were expected to be down this season after losing a lot of talent from last year’s team, but I’m not sure anybody expected them to be this bad, as they are just 1-3 on the season. The Bulldogs are hoping to turn things around in Big East play and pick up their first league win of the year tonight at home.

For Providence, the Friars are looking to pick up their 4th win against top-100 competition tonight on the road. PC is 1-0 in Big East play, as they went into Seton Hall in their last game and knocked off the Pirates. Winning on the road in the Big East is never an easy task, and if Providence can run their league road record to 2-0 tonight, they are going to be in a position to challenge for the regular-season league title.

Spread:

  • Providence Friars (-1)
  • Butler Bulldogs (+1)
Money line:

  • Providence Friars (-120)
  • Butler Bulldogs (+105)
Total Points:

  • Over 133 (-110)
  • Under 133 (-110)

Providence Friars (5-2)

Most people had the Providence Friars as a middle of the pack team in the Big East this season, that was going to likely make the NCAA tournament, but that would probably be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. But after seeing this team play, I am not so sure that the Friars aren’t going to compete with Villanova and Creighton at the top of the league. PC has been a road warrior team this year, as they have won back-to-back games on the road against solid teams.

Ed Cooley has the Friars playing well as they just don’t ever turn the ball over. Providence averages just 10.4 turnovers a game, 15th best in the nation. If you can take care of the basketball, you are going to win a lot of games in the Big East. Junior guard David Duke has been the star of the show for the Friars as he leads the team in scoring at nearly 20-points a game and is an early-season Big East POTY candidate.

Butler Bulldogs (1-3)

When Butler lost at Villanova or on a neutral floor against Indiana, it was easy to say that those were just tough matchups against good teams, and they were. But when the Bulldogs lost at home to Southern Illinois in their last game, it has me wondering if this Butler team is going to be able to stay competitive in the Big East this season.

The data on Butler is not a good story right now as they are allowing an effective field goal percentage of nearly 60%, which is 317th in the nation. They also don’t force many turnovers as they are just 283rd in turnovers forced per possession. The low turnover total is driven by a lack of steals. The Bulldogs are 319th in the country in steals per possession, averaging one of the lowest steal totals of any D1 team.

Who Do I Like?

I feel like such a square right now, as I am thinking of laying wood on the road in the Big East. Taking favorites on the road in the Big East has been a death sentence the last several seasons as this has been a home court dominated league. But despite history telling me to beware, that’s the play I am going to make tonight.

We have a Providence Friars team that has shown they can win on the road in hostile territory against a Butler Bulldogs team that just lost at home to a team ranked 154th. The Friars never turn the ball over, and the Bulldogs don’t force many turnovers. This is just one of those spots where I am going to go against the conventional wisdom and back the road team. The fact that home teams haven’t been playing at the same level without the stands packed with fans, only makes this player higher value.

The Bet

This line opened up at an even pick ’em, and the early betting sharps hammered PC and moved the line towards the Friars. The line has been moving towards Providence all morning long, and I see some -1.5’s and even a couple of -2’s out there. This is going to be a number you are going to want to shop, as you don’t want to find yourself laying several points on the road in this game.

There are still several books that have this game at PC -1-point. Find one of them and book your action before this bet loses all of its value. I see the Friars playing an efficient game, not turning the ball over much, and just generally being better everywhere than Butler tonight. The game will be tightly contested as Butler isn’t going to just lay down at Hinkle Fieldhouse, but when the final buzzer rings, the Friars are going to win their 3rd straight road game. Give me the Providence Friars laying a point on the road; I’ll call it at a 77-74 final score!

The Bet: Providence Friars -1

My Pick
Providence Friars -1
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