Butler vs. Xavier Pick NCAA – Feb 21st + Bonus Pick

It’s never a good feeling when you backed a sizable underdog and the game goes into overtime. You handicapped the game correctly, but now there are five more minutes to snatch away your well-deserved cover. Fortunately, last night’s overtime session between Cleveland State and Green Bay just made the result more lopsided in our favor as the Vikings ended up notching a huge Horizon League road win.

Today is a typically packed Saturday of college hoops action, starting with a host of good games at noon and continuing until near midnight with the UCLA at Arizona ESPN GameDay finale. There aren’t any enormous marquee games, but there are a bunch of very good games; especially in the Big East (Butler at Xavier, Seton Hall vs. St. John’s) and the Big Twelve (West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State, Iowa State vs. Texas), and an interesting question mark with Jahlil Okafor possibly out tonight for Duke’s game against Clemson.

Let’s dive in with a few of today’s better opportunities.

Today’s Free Picks:

Florida Gators at LSU Tigers -5

To call this season a disaster for Florida would be a gross understatement. It’s been the worst season of the Billy Donovan era and certainly the most disappointing. Now the injuries and suspensions are piling up as well; Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier are out today making things even tougher against an LSU team that has been better all season long.

The Tigers have one of the better frontcourts in the country and should be able to exploit the Gators thin interior. Yes, they have struggled some the few weeks bookending the Kentucky thriller, dropping four of their last six games including a loss to lowly Mississippi State. However, they have covered three of their last four games including an impressive dominating road win at Tennessee last weekend.

Florida had lost four straight games before snapping the skid with a less-than-impressive three point home win over Vanderbilt. They are 3-7 over their last ten games both straight-up. Florida is a mess, and I don’t see them mounting a heroic effort in the Bayou tonight.

Free Pick:   LSU Tigers -5


Butler Bulldogs at Xavier Musketeers -4.5

This is an interesting game. Both teams have similar talent levels, both schools have similar profiles; private schools in major Midwestern cities who had tremendous success in March and leveraged that success into conference moves and eventually all the way to the big time of the Big East. Today’s game means far more for the home team in terms of making the tournament, but don’t discount the meaning for Butler. The Bulldogs have reeled off eight of their last ten and have been seeded as high as #3 in a few mock brackets.

Butler, in addition to reeling off eight of ten games has been super-impressive in their losses. They lost to Villanova by 2 and to Georgetown on the road by 2. Butler just doesn’t get blown out. Even on the road.

Meanwhile, Xavier is poised for a potential emotional letdown after Wednesday’s huge rivalry win over Cincinnati. Plus, the Muskies are an erratic wager. If Butler is steady and reliable, than Xavier is combustible and unpredictable. Xavier is just 7-7 in league play, and 5-5 ATS in their last ten games. This is a team that won at Georgetown in dominating fashion, and the same team that has lost to Creighton, Long Beach and UTEP.

I’ll take a fistful of points and the more reliable team in Butler.

Free Pick: Butler Bulldogs +4.5

Chris Scheeren / Author