Drake Bulldogs (23-3), +6, 128 O/U at Butler Bulldogs (25-2), -6,
128 O/U, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind., 5 p.m. Eastern, Saturday
by Oracle of Predictem.com
Who will take the bigger bite when the battle of the Bulldogs takes
place between the 18th ranked Drake Bulldogs and Horizon League
leader Butler, who is ranked 8th in the nation, in a non-conference
showdown on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse?
Butlers current 9-game winning streak is just a slice of what has
been a sensational season, not having lost since January 17th at
Cleveland State, a span of over a month. They are also impenetrable
at home this year, winning all 13 games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and its
No. 8 ranking is the highest in school history. Butler gets a break
from its Horizon League dominance (14-2 record) going against a Drake
team that is coming off a last-second loss to Bradley on Wednesday,
First year head coach Keno Davis and his scrappy Drake squad has
already wrapped up the Missouri Valley Conference - its first MVC
title since 1971 with a 65-55 win against Northern Iowa last
Saturday. However, after an extraordinary 21-game winning streak that
lasted over a span of nearly three months, the Bulldogs have lost two
out of their last three, albeit by an average of just 2 points.
Sportsbooks opened this game with Butler as a 5.5-point favorite, with a 128-point total.
It would seem as though Mike Green is the leader of the Butler
Bulldogs with his 14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
But point guard A.J. Graves is the floor leader and is known for
hitting clutch shots down the stretch for his team, such as his
recent go-ahead 3-pointer with under a minute to play in a big 51-46
win over Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday. In that same game, Green
finished with just 3 points in 33 minutes, while Pete Campbell came
up huge off the bench with 12 points, proving that Butler can win
even when their leading scorer has an off night. Campbell is shooting
a blistering 44% from beyond the arc while averaging 11 points per
game. Butler has a fairly balanced attack with four players averaging
in double figures, including Green, Graves (13.2), Campbell and
underrated freshman Matt Howard (12.8).
Meanwhile, Drake is nearly a mirror image of Butler, as they use
several key players in their offensive arsenal. Although point guard
Adam Emmenecker isnt an offensive juggernaut (7.4 ppg), he is
similar to Graves with his floor leadership. Emmenecker leads the
team by averaging 6 assists, boasting a 2/1 assist to turnover ratio,
and nearly 2 steals per game. Josh Young has been the main focus in
Drakes offense this season, and that hasnt changed in recent weeks,
averaging 18 points in his past seven games and 16 points per game on
the year. Young tried to lead the Bulldogs to victory against Bradley
on Wednesday, but his 23 points werent enough. Jonathan Cox is also
a significant part to the Bulldogs. Cox scored 15 points in the loss
to Bradley and averages 8.3 rebounds per game on the year as the
teams 6-foot 8-inch center. Also, Klayton Korver (9.4 ppg), the
younger brother of the Utah Jazz forward Kyle Korver, puts up nearly
7 three-point shots a game, including going 3-for-12 from downtown in
the loss to Bradley.
These two teams are not only similar on offense, but on the defensive
side of the ball as well. Butler gives up just 58.5 points per game,
which is 9th best in the nation. The past couple of games have backed
up that statistic, giving up just 46 points to UIC and Cleveland
State in a revenge game. They also hold opponents to just 33.5%
shooting from beyond the arc. On the other hand, Drake is 24th in the
nation in giving up 60.5 points per game. As of late, though, Drakes
defense hasnt been very taut, giving up 67 points in their past 6
Since these teams havent met on the court in over 35 years, with no
real betting history, its not surprising that the line started with
Butler favored by 6 points. Butler has been a mid-major power for
years, while Drake is still considered by many to be having a
surprise season in a weak MVC.
Drake has one huge advantage for bettors, though; with a 16-5-1
record ATS, which is third best in the country, including an 8-2-1
ATS record on the road. The over is 6-1 in the past seven games when
Drake takes the floor as well.
Butler hasnt been terrible to bettors this year with a 13-11-2 mark
ATS, but its a very average mark. Butlers offense can be
inconsistent at times, therefore their over/under record isnt
surprisingly close at 12-14, including 6-5 at home. The Butler
offense is hard to judge because they have averaged 51 points the
past two games (Under), while averaging 86 points the two games
before that (Over).