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National Title Game: Butler vs. Connecticut Gambling Odds

Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Butler vs Connecticut Betting Preview

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Venue: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
Broadcast: CBS
Butler Bulldogs vs. Connecticut Huskies
Betting Lines From Betonline.com:
Money Line: Connecticut -165
Spread: Connecticut -3.5
Over/Under: 129.5
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When all of the lights go up at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas Monday night, the story will be different but one of the players will remain the same. The Butler Bulldogs are a Cinderella team no more, not after reaching the NCAA national title game for a second consecutive season. In fact, this year’s Bulldogs’ team is the one that eliminated this year’s underdog story, knocking off the VCU Rams of the Commonwealth in the Final Four. The team that Butler meets in the final will be much different than the one it knocked off to get there, and the threat of a repeat of last year’s run that fell just short looms ahead.

After all, the team they will face in the final was the best in one of the best conferences in college ball. In fact, the Big East was undoubtedly the deepest in the NCAA, with a record 11 teams from that grouping making their way to this year’s tournament. The Connecticut Huskies are its final representative, a fitting situation after what they did once the postseason got underway. The Huskies were far from the best team in the conference during the regular season, but like they did in the Maui Invitational earlier in the year, Kemba Walker and company were dominant en route to a Big East title. That ability to peak at the right time in the year is an underlying them for both of these teams, which will set the record for most combined losses for the teams competing in the national championship game.

The Bulldogs finished fourth in the Horizon standings, while you would have to scroll much further down in the Big East to find Connecticut. None of that mattered however once those teams reached the Madness. Sparked be returnees Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack, Butler survived some close scares against the Old Dominion Monarchs and top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers out of the Southeast region. The Huskies didn’t need to go through a top seed after the defending national champion Duke Blue Devils were eliminated by the Arizona Wildcats in the Elite Eight, but have impressed just as much throughout this tournament. Much of that has come from the play of their superstar guard Walker, a dominant force that has contributed at both ends of the floor with his incredible offense and surprising defense. Buy Points in March Madness at BetOnline

The Bulldogs arrived in Houston with unfinished business, but even Pittsburgh didn’t have a superstar like Walker, and he hasn’t had to do it alone. Freshman Jeremy Lamb has come out of nowhere to be the perfect compliment to his junior partner, while center Alex Oriakhi has been dominant on the boards. Butler is known for its size and grinding style, but they may be outmatched by a Huskies’ team that has been the most dominant in college ball since late February. This game should stay close, but in the end it will be Connecticut bringing the title home for the conference that has been the best the entire year. The Bulldogs will keep it close, but fall short.

The difference in this contest could very well be the fact that the Huskies are all too reliant on Walker whereas the Bulldogs are more versatile. With Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack offering more weapons, the Bulldogs are better-acclimated to being able to win if either of them is shut down. Speaking of which, Butler has done a great job of taking away their opponent’s best weapon and they’ll make Walker work for every single shot. He’ll still get his fair share of points but he may have to achieve that through volume, which could hurt the Huskies. Look for Butler to keep this one close and have a shot at winning, but the result could be very similar to last year’s outcome.

Pick: Butler +3.5

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Dave Golokhov has written for Playboy.com, BETUS Sportsbook, Sportsfanmagazine.com, FOX, Askmen.com, Sports-central, and the FOXSports.com Funhouse.


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