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In a battle of ranked teams, the 18th-ranked Butler Bulldogs visit the 11th-ranked Baylor Bears as part of the Big East/Big 12 challenge. Both sides are off to fantastic starts, and each squad moved up several slots in this week's Associated Press poll as they are coming off big time wins in their last outings. This is the first year of a four-year partnership between the Big East and Big 12, as well as the first time that the two programs have faced each other.
Butler looking to keep unblemished recordLast time out: Butler (9-0) defeated Florida 76-62 on Saturday to remain one of eight undefeated teams in the nation. Trailing 21-20 with less than 4:30 minutes left, Butler outscored Florida 15-5 the rest of the half to take a 35-26 halftime lead. The Gators cut the Bulldogs lead down to six twice, but Butler always answered. The Bulldogs pushed their lead to as many as 19 with 7:33 remaining. Sean McDermott and Aaron Thompson tallied 16 points apiece to lead four players in double-figures. Butler shot 52.1% from the field and 45% (9-for-20) from beyond the arc, while Florida made 43.8% of its shots as well as just 23.1% from long-distance.
The spin: The Bulldogs are undefeated through the first nine games for the first time since 2006-07. The win over Florida gave Butler five victories over power conference teams. Their nine treys versus the Gators tied a season-high. McDermott, who hauled in a game-high seven rebounds, was 4-for-9 from the field as well as 3-for-7 from beyond the arc and he has now scored in double-figures in six of nine contests. The 16 points were the senior forward's most since tallying 26 versus IUPUI in the season-opener. McDermott leads the team with two triples a game while shooting 45% from beyond the arc. Thompson's 16 points were a season-high, and his seven assists are the sixth time that he has dished out at least five dimes. Thompson is two assists shy of moving into 10th place on the program's assist list. Kemar Baldwin tallied 12 points versus the Gators to move within two points of 10th place on the program's all-time scoring list. The 6-1 guard also doled out a season-high six assists and knocked down two three-pointers, marking the third straight game that he has made two shots from long-distance. Bryce Nze has been highly efficient this year (64.8% field goal percentage), but after scoring in double-figures in each of his five games this season, he has done so just once in the past four outings.
Baylor seeking to slay third ranked opponentBaylor (7-1) earned its sixth straight win with a 63-58 victory over then-12th ranked Arizona as MaCio Teague, and Freddie Gillespie combined for 36 points. After the teams exchanged baskets in the early going, the Bears scored 14 straight points to take a 22-8 lead and control of the game. Baylor scored the opening bucket of the second half, but Arizona then began to cut into the Bears lead slowly. The Wildcats got within 57-56 with less two minutes remaining; however, Teague made a pair of free throws and blocked Nico Mannion’s three-point attempt on their subsequent possession. Baylor iced the game by sinking three of four free throws over the last 11 seconds. The Bears shot 30.4% from the floor and 25% from three-point land. Meanwhile, the Bears held the Wildcats to just 26.9% shooting from the field as well as 11.1% from the three-point line.
The spin: The win over Arizona improved Baylor’s record to 76-19 in December though just 43-72 against teams ranked in the AP poll. The Bears are currently 2-0 versus ranked teams this year as they also have won over Villanova. Teague reached double-figures for the sixth straight game against Arizona with his team-high 19 points despite making just four of 12 shots from the floor and two of eight from beyond the arc. Teague has made a three-pointer in 33 straight games and has drained multiple threes in 27 of those contests. Gillespie contributed a career-high 17 points along with 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. He tied his personal-mark with 13 boards and five blocks as well. Gillespie has hauled in 13 caroms in each of his last two contests and now has five double-digit rebound games. Jared Butler tallied 13 points, his second-fewest points this season. Butler was a season-low three of 12 from the field, including going one of seven from beyond the arc.
- Bulldogs are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
- Bulldogs are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight-up win.
- Bulldogs are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite.
- Bulldogs are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Bulldogs are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am going with Butler here. Butler is 7-1 against the spread this year overall and 2-1 on the road. The Bulldogs have been very good offensively this season and possesses an offensive rating of 112.1, which is 12th in KenPom.com's offensive rating efficiency. Butler shares the ball extremely well registering an assist on 56.3% of all their field goals, and the Bulldogs are averaging 15 dimes a contest. Thompson is the table-setter for the offense with a three-to-one assist ratio, and the Bulldogs can score inside and out. McDermott and Jordan Tucker is excellent spot-up shooters, while Baldwin can score a variety of ways. Baldwin is averaging 20 points over the last seven games and is shooting 50% from beyond the arc during this span. Baylor allowed Washington's Nahziah Carter and Villanova's Collin Gillespie to put up 23 and 27, respectively, as each player shot over 50% from them. Additionally, Butler has been excellent defensively. The key for the Bulldogs will be to control the tempo and get to the free-throw line.
Full-Game Total Pick
I am going with the under here. Both teams play at a slow pace to deliberate pace with Baylor averaging slightly less than 69 possessions a game while Butler is at 64.4 possessions. Plus, both teams play hard on the defensive end of the court and are excellent at creating turnovers. Butler has held six of its nine opponents to under 60 points and the Bulldogs are limiting their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 46.2%. Baylor is strong defensively as well and is holding opponents to 57 points on 33.2% shooting from the field at home.