Butler Bulldogs vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Butler Bulldogs (16-4 SU, 8-12 ATS) vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix (15-7 SU, 7-7-2 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, Friday, January 29, 2009, Resch Center, Green Bay, Wisc. TV: ESPNU
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Butler -8/Wisconsin-Green Bay +8
Over/Under: 131.5

The Butler Bulldogs had high expectations coming into the season and didn’t quite meet those expectations throughout a tough non-conference schedule. But they have proved their worth in the Horizon League, as they have started the conference season with a 9-0 record. Their game Friday night at Wisconsin-Green Bay will be one of their toughest games remaining in the regular season.

Green Bay is currently second in the Horizon League with a 7-3 conference record. This game is huge for the Phoenix because a win would get them within 1.5 games of the Bulldogs and a loss would put them 3.5 games back of first place.

The Phoenix do have some bad losses this season but one terrific home win showed the potential this team has. On December 9, they knocked off nationally-ranked Wisconsin at home, 88-84. If they play as well as they did in that game against Butler, they will be able to pull off the upset over the Bulldogs. In that game, Green Bay shot 48 percent from the field and 9-for-18 from 3-point range. Bryquis Perine led the team with 22 points, and Randy Berry had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

In Green Bay’s last game, the Phoenix won 69-55 at Youngstown State on Sunday. Troy Cotton led them with 23 points. Berry had 11 points and nine rebounds. The Phoenix shot 46 percent from the field and 8-for-21 on 3-pointers. They dominated on the boards with a 35-20 rebounding edge.

Butler faced a brutal non-conference schedule that included games against Northwestern, Minnesota, UCLA, Clemson, Georgetown, Ohio State, Xavier and UAB. While the Bulldogs only went 4-4 in those games, the tough schedule prepared them for the Horizon slate, where they are currently undefeated.

In their last game, the Bulldogs won 84-55 at Illinois-Chicago on Saturday. Gordon Hayward had a monster game with 25 points and eight rebounds. Shelvin Mack had 15 points and six assists. The Bulldogs shot 56 percent and only committed nine turnovers. It’s tough to lose with those statistics.

When these teams faced each other at Butler on December 31, the Bulldogs easily won the game, 72-49. They out-rebounded the Phoenix by 15 and shot 46 percent from the field, while Green Bay shot 35 percent. Shelvin Mack had 14 points and Gordon Hayward had 13 points for Butler. Rian Pearson led Green Bay with 11 points.

Green Bay has been very consistent between its overall statistics this season and its stats in conference play. The only major difference is its 3-point stats. The Phoenix are shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers overall but 35 percent in conference play. Their opponents are shooting 33 percent from 3-point range for the season but just 29 percent in conference play. Because of Butler’s tough non-conference schedule, its stats have gotten better in conference play. The Bulldogs are shooting 49 percent in Horizon play and holding opponents to 42 percent. They are hitting 38 percent of their 3-point attempts in conference play and out-rebounding Horizon opponents by five boards per

Butler is 0-5 ATS in its last five games following an ATS win and 0-5 ATS in its last five games following a SU win of more than 20 points. Green Bay is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a home underdog, 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games following an ATS win, and 15-7-2 ATS in its last 24 home games. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four games between these teams. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams at Green Bay.

Ryno’s Pick: Butler has a terrific team and can certainly make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Hayward, Mack and Matt Howard are all exceptional players and head coach Brad Stevens is one of the great young coaches in college basketball. The Bulldogs have proved their talent with a 9-0 start in conference play, but they have had some struggles throughout the season on the road. They were lucky to win by two in overtime at Detroit, they lost by 10 at UAB, and they won by four at Evansville. Green Bay is a solid team as evidenced by its win at home over Wisconsin earlier in the season, so covering eight points will be tough to do on the road for the Bulldogs. Green Bay can certainly win this game or at least keep it close, so the value is with the Phoenix. Take Wisconsin-Green Bay +8.