March 19, 2016

NCAA Basketball Betting: Butler vs. Virgina

NCAA Basketball Betting:  Butler vs. Virgina&h=253&w=372&zc=1

Butler is one of those teams that is a perennial darling of bettors. There’s definitely a good reason for that–back to back appearances in the NCAA Championship Game will do that for a school. They’ll face a tough matchup on Saturday as they take on ACC power Virginia.

The Butler Bulldogs are the blueprint for how every mid major program should be run. At least they were–they’re now in the Big East Conference which technically strips them of mid-major status. Butler has been a fixture in NCAA tournament play earning a spot in the ‘Big Dance’ on an almost yearly basis over the past couple of decades (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 to be specific). They became a ‘license to print money’ for bettors during their two NCAA championship game runs. ‘Squares’ refused to believe that this tiny school that they’d never heard of could beat (insert basketball powerhouse name here). The ‘sharps’ knew better and kept betting accordingly.

Things have not been easy for Butler since the last time they reached the championship game (2011). Most significantly, head coach Brad Stevens took his game to the Boston Celtics of the NBA. Combine that with Butler’s new home in the Big East and they’ve had a rough time of it over the past few years. You could even make a case that the move was bad for recruiting–players were anxious to play for the plucky Horizon League school that stood toe to toe with the biggest names in the sports. Now they’re just an ‘also ran’ Big East team. It was no doubt a good move for the school financially and will pay dividends in that regard for years to come. A middle of the pack Big East team likely brings in more league revenues than an elite Horizon League team. But it has cost Butler much of their allure.

So don’t be fooled by Butler’s 22-8 record against the spread in tournament games since 1997. They’re still a decent enough team for what they are but there’s nothing about them that suggests they can take out an ACC team like Virginia that plays very nasty defense.