Despite the fact that the Michigan State Spartans were just 1-3 in Big 10 play, with their lone win coming over cellar dwelling Nebraska, I still felt that the demise of the Spartans was being greatly exaggerated. This is still a talented team and Tom Izzo is still one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history. So, when I saw the opportunity to back them at home, laying just a point and a half, against a Rutgers team that is elite at home, but just good, on the road, it seemed like a great spot.
When you have talented guys like Rocket Watts and Joshua Langford who aren’t playing up to their ability, it’s going to cause you to lose some games that maybe you shouldn’t. But after seeing Langford play well against Nebraska and knowing that Watts is just too talented to struggle for too much longer, I expected a breakout game for both guys. So, I backed the Spartans and expected them to win and cover at home.
A 23 point win over the #15 team in the country ✅✅✅ pic.twitter.com/zq39JlzPwW
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) January 6, 2021
And that is exactly what happened. Langford and Watts both scored double-digit points in what ended up being a blow out victory for Sparty. Michigan State built a small led early but dominated the second half and eventually took the game 68-45. The Spartans dominated the glass, outrebounding Rutgers 45-25, and they held the Scarlet Knights to just 30% shooting from the field.
The win was the second straight for Michigan State, and after a slow start to conference play, they look like they now have things moving in the right direction again. For Rutgers, they are starting to feel the pain of Big 10 play, as they rose to as high as 11th nationally before stumbling in league play and losing three out of their last four games.
I have been preaching about home team dominance in the Big 10 for years, and this year, home teams are basically free money as they have won outright 72% of the time, by far the highest home winning percentage of any major conference. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Indianapolis, where we check in on another team that many have left for dead, as the Butler Bulldogs host the Georgetown Hoyas in a Big East battle.
- Georgetown Hoyas (3-6) at Butler Bulldogs (2-5)
- Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: FS1
The Butler Bulldogs square off with the Georgetown Hoyas tonight in a matchup between two struggling Big East teams. The Bulldogs were expected to be rebuilding this season after losing a bunch of talent from last year’s scrappy overachieving squad. But even with limited expectations, it has been surprising to see Butler play so poorly. The Bulldogs are just 2-5 on the season and have lost five out of their last six games.
— Butler Basketball (@ButlerMBB) January 6, 2021
For Georgetown, the Hoyas are playing poorly as well, as they are just 3-6 on the season and 1-4 in Big East play. The Hoyas are on a three-game losing streak, including back-to-back road losses by double digits. There was some optimism that Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing was going to be able to turn things around this year, in his fourth year at the helm of his alma mater, but after this slow start, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Butler Bulldogs (2-5)
Nobody expected the Butler Bulldogs to win the Big East this year, as this was always going to be a down year in Indy, with guys like Kamar Baldwin leaving the program. But it is still surprising to see them lose so many games. The Bulldogs have done a fantastic job of competing year in and year out in the Big East, but they just haven’t been able to stay competitive so far this season.
But when you look at their schedule, you have to wonder if this has just been a really tough stretch of scheduling that has led to the Bulldog’s struggles? Of their five losses, four of them have come away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, and all of the road losses came against teams that are sure to be dancing in March. The homecourt loss to Southern Illinois was a head-scratcher, but Butler did beat a solid Providence team at Hinkle earlier this year, so they have continued to be tough at home despite their struggles on the road.
Georgetown Hoyas (3-6)
Is Patrick Ewing on the hot seat right now? We have seen a rash of former NBA stars returning home to coach their former college teams, and while guys like Penny Hardaway and Juwan Howard have enjoyed some success leading their former programs, Patrick Ewing is in year four at G-Town, and things aren’t looking like they are getting any better. The Hoyas have yet to come close to dancing under Ewing’s leadership, and his record in Big East play is an embarrassing 20-39.
Unlike Butler, whose struggles have mostly been away from home, the Hoyas are equally bad at home and on the road. Four of their losses have come at home, and they are 0-2 on the road, getting blown out in both games. If this bad start weren’t enough for Hoyas fans to start doubting Ewing’s role at the top of the program, the Hoyas play five of their next six games on the road. If Georgetown can’t find a way to win on the road, their already ugly record is going to get even worse.
Who Do I Like?
While Georgetown is at the start of what is likely to be a nasty spiral towards the bottom of the Big East standings, things might actually be looking up for Butler. Looking at the next several games for Butler, they finally catch a break on the schedule, as they play at home three times, and both of their road games, at DePaul and at St. John’s, seem to be winnable. If the Bulldogs can post a winning record in this attractive five-game stretch, all of the sudden, their season has at least a little bit of hope of ending with a trip to the NCAA tournament.
I am not going to predict that Butler is able to get it completely turned around this season, but I do know that the Bulldogs are always tough at home. Hinkle Fieldhouse is never an easy place for opposing teams to win, and with Georgetown being what I see as the worst team in the Big East right now, I think Butler wins this one going away tonight.
This line opened with Butler laying -8-points. Admittedly that was an inflated number, and I wasn’t going to want to lay that much wood on a team as inconsistent as Butler is right now, even against a bad Hoyas team. But the public always takes a good thing too far, and they have backed the Hoyas in droves, moving this number a whopping +3.5-points towards Butler.
So, now instead of needing Butler to blow out the Hoyas to cover, all we really need is for them to do is hit their free throws down the stretch if Georgetown somehow manages to keep the game competitive. I think that is what happens tonight. Georgetown has yet to keep a game close on the road, and I can’t imagine they are going to start tonight at Hinkle. Give me the Butler Bulldogs tonight as small homecourt favorites, laying -4.5-points, as they coast to the win and the cover. Let’s call it a 77-65 final score from Indianapolis.