Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Butler Bulldogs
First place meets second place in the Horizon League as the Valparaiso Crusaders and Butler Bulldogs close out their regular seasons on Friday Night. The Crusaders are -1 point favorites over the Bulldogs with an over/under point total set at 125.
The Valparaiso Crusaders are the regular season Horizon League champs but Bryce Drew’s team knows from recent experience that the road to the Horizon League Tournament goes through Butler. Valpo is 13-4 in the Horizon League, 12-2 at home this season, and they have a two game lead in the conference standings. Ryan Broekhoff is averaging 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds, Kevin Van Wijk is averaging 14.3 points and 4.9 rebounds, and Matt Kenney is averaging 7.6 points and 4.5 rebounds. As a team the Crusaders are averaging 69.6 points and they are shooting 47.2 percent while defensively they are allowing 66.1 points and their opponents are shooting 42.5 percent. Valpo is 2-2 in their last four games but 6-2 in their last eight.
The Butler Bulldogs are closing out their season strong winning their last five games in a row and everyone on the planet knows that if Brad Steven’s team catches fire then no other team in the country wants to see them find their way into their NCAA Tournament bracket. Butler is 11-6 in the Horizon League, 6-7 on the road this season, and can seal at least a tie for second place in the conference with a win here. Andrew Smith is averaging 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds, Khyle Marshall is averaging 9.3 points, and Chris Hopkins is averaging 8.3 points. As a team Butler is averaging 63.5 points and they are shooting 40.8 percent while defensively they are allowing 61 points and their opponents shoot 41 percent. With two appearances in the NCAA Finals in the last two seasons I am not ready to put anything past Butler.
Valparaiso is 5-2 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 0-4 against the spread in their last four games overall, and 2-6-1 against the spread in their last nine home games against a team with a losing road record. Butler is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall, 4-9-1 against the spread in their last 14 road games, and 4-12-1 against the spread following a win. The underdog has covered in five of the last six meetings of these two.
There is nothing between these two teams that suggests an under here and my pick will be on the over.