There is a big board on the hardwood today for the college basketball slate. Tennessee, Florida State, and Gonzaga are the only ranked teams in action on Monday, though there’s a lot of action for us handicappers to evaluate on the card. The only game that is currently postponed is Incarnate Word and Rice. Fingers crossed that there aren’t any more postponements, but don’t be surprised. I have had games I’ve had action on get postponed or cancelled at the last-minute.
Knock on wood, there are no concerns for the Southern Illinois Salukis and Butler Bulldogs in Indianapolis going into Monday. Butler have made a name for themselves over the years thanks to hard work and determination. Brad Stevens had a big role in putting Butler on the map as well. Steven’s impact on the program was monumental, as he was able to find gems in the rough and bring them to Butler University.
Butler went to back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011 with Stevens at the helm. The 2010 game stung for Butler, as their magical run came to an end against Duke by a score of 61-59. It was a thrilling contest, with Gordon Hayward almost winning the game on a half-court heave. If you’re a college basketball fan, you don’t need a reminder of that sequence.
Since 2011, the best Butler has done is reach the Sweet Sixteen in 2017. This was without Stevens, as he had already exited the program to go to the NBA in 2013. The Bulldogs had one of their worst seasons in over a decade a season ago. Butler finished with a record of 16-16 after going 21-14 the season before. LaVall Jordan might be a decent head coach, but Butler needs to find the next Brad Stevens from somewhere.
Butler is not a prime destination for high schoolers, and it’ll require a recruiter like Stevens to get the Bulldogs back on top. Butler goes into Monday with a record of 1-2 following a 68-60 loss against Indiana on Saturday. They barely escaped Western Michigan with a 66-62 win to open the season.
Against a much better Villanova squad, the Wildcats washed the floor with Butler for a 85-66 win. Southern Illinois arrives in Indianapolis in good form. They have been perfect so far with a record of 5-0, but haven’t tested themselves against an opponent like Butler. Head below for our free Southern Illinois vs. Butler pick for December 21, 2020.
Southern Illinois Salukis vs. Butler Bulldogs NCAA Betting Odds:
Southern Illinois vs. Butler Prediction:
Southern Illinois will look to stay undefeated with a win on Monday night. This time an upset will be required to upset Butler on their home court. Southern Illinois are coming off a 16-16 season. They went 10-8 in the Missouri Valley for an okay season. The Salukis have looked sharp so far, and look ready to do much better than the 2019-20 campaign. They are 5-0 going into tonight, with back-to-back wins over North Dakota, 62-50 and 84-64. Southern Illinois also defeated Southeast Missouri State, 87-79, Quincy, 102-61, and Murray State, 70-66.
Their win over Murray State might be the most impressive of the bunch. The Salukis have netted an average of 81.2 points per game for 68th in the NCAA. They’ve been red-hot with 49.6% shooting from the field. The competition they’ve played against has something to do with that, but the current Butler team isn’t anything to get excited over. They were very average last season, and appear to be on the same trajectory in 2020-21.
The three-point shooting for the Salukis has aided their hot start early on. They’ve been one of the best teams in the country from deep. Note that Southern Illinois are shooting 43.6% from beyond the arch. That’s good for sixth in the NCAA. The defense for the Salukis has also been in good form, with 64 points against for 64th in the NCAA. Butler has averaged 64 points per game for 294th. They should be able to score more than that on this Southern Illinois team tonight, but 9 points looks like a lot of points against the hot shooting Salukis right now.