NCAA Championship Betting Preview – Butler vs. Connecticut
Reliant Stadium in Houston will be the site for Monday night’s showdown between the Butler Bulldogs and the Connecticut Huskies in this year’s NCAA Tournament Championship Game. Tip-off is set for 9:23 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
This will be Butler’s second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s title game, but it will be looking for a different outcome this time around after falling two points short of a national title in last year’s 61-59 loss to Duke as a seven-point underdog. The five-game journey to get to this point included victories over No.1 seed Pittsburgh in the third round and No.2 seed Florida in the Southeast Region finals. The Bulldogs completed the trip with a 70-62 win over VCU on Saturday night as a 3 ½-point favorite in the Final Four round.
Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack led the way for Butler all tournament long and will no doubt be the key to getting by Connecticut on Monday night. Howard had to deal with foul trouble against the Rams but still managed to score 17 points and pull down eight rebounds. Mack tallied a team-high 24 points while adding six rebounds in the winning effort.
This game was won on the boards as the Bulldogs outrebounded VCU 46-32. The most telling stat was a 15-5 edge on the offensive side of the ball. Head coach Brad Stevens has now led his team to an amazing 10 victories in its last 11 tournament games.
Connecticut began its journey to a national title with a five game run through this year’s Big East Tournament. The Huskies capitalized on this momentum with victories over No.2 seed San Diego State in the Sweet 16 and No.4 seed Arizona in the West Region title game. It all culminated with a dramatic 56-55 win over Kentucky as a two-point underdog in Saturday night’s Final Four matchup.
This team owes much of its success this postseason to the spectacular play of junior guard Kemba Walker. He has averaged 25 points a game in this tournament and led the way against the Wildcats with a game-high 18 points. He also added six rebounds and seven assists to help secure the win. Freshman guard/forward Jeremy Lamb added 12 points and eight rebounds and Alex Oriakhi scored eight points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds against Kentucky.
The Huskies had their struggles in this game as well with a 1-for-12 performance from three point range and 15 turnovers, but they were still able to build a 10 point lead at the half and hold off a very talented Kentucky team down the stretch. The overall effort was once again was a shining example of the resolve of Jim Calhoun’s team to simply keep winning games.
Anyone who had the insight and/or guts to wager on either of these teams to win it all stands to have a healthy payday especially if Butler pulls off the upset. Bodog.com had opened the Bulldogs at 200-1 and the Huskies at 28-1 to win the title before the tournament got underway.
Butler is 8-2 against the spread in its last 10 games overall with the total going ‘over’ in three of its last four games. Connecticut has gone 9-1 ATS in its 10-game run and the total has stayed ‘under’ in five of its last six games.
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