Butler has exceeded all expectations this season after head coach Brandon Miller asked for and was granted a medical leave of absence two days before the Bulldogs opened practice. Assistant coach Chris Holtmann was immediately named interim head coach and the former Gardner-Webb head coach has done one of the best coaching jobs in the nation this season.
During his three-year tenure at Gardner-Webb, Holtmann took the Runnin’ Bulldogs from eight wins in 2009-2010 to a school Division I record 21 victories and a berth in the Collegeinsider.com postseason tournament in his last year. Holtmann was named Big South Conference Coach of the Year and NABC District 3 Coach of the Year for his efforts.
While most teams would have wilted under the cloud of turmoil and uncertainty, Butler has excelled. After being picked to finish seventh in the Big East Conference’s annual preseason poll, the Bulldogs have reeled off five consecutive wins and are currently ranked No. 18 in this week’s national basketball polls.
Butler possesses a very good defense that is allowing 61.0 points per game on 40.7% shooting from the field and 28.6% from beyond the arc to teams that would combine to average 70.0 points per game against a mediocre defensive squad. Even more impressive is the fact that the Bulldogs are 12-1 SU at home this season where they are limiting opponents to just 56.8 points per game on 39.5% shooting from the floor and 28.0% from three-point territory.
Butler leads the Big East Conference in rebounding margin (+5.8) and has out-rebounded 19-of-24 opponents this season. Senior Kameron Woods ranks second in the conference and 20th nationally in total rebounds (227), while ranking first in the league in defensive rebounds (6.5) and second in offensive rebounds (3.0).
Meanwhile, senior guard Alex Barlow ranks second in the Big East and 13th nationally in steals per game (2.29), while also ranking 13th in the country in total steals this season (55). Overall, Butler possesses a 0.4 points per game advantage over a Villanova attack that is 8.6 points per game better than average (74.7 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.1 points per game).
Butler’s offense has been extremely efficient at home where it is averaging 76.7 points per game on 49.6% shooting from the field and 38.0% from beyond the arc. Overall, the Bulldogs are 4.7 points per game better than average offensively (71.8 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 67.1 points per game), which is not good enough to exploit a very good Villanova stop unit that is 8.5 points per game better than average. However, the Bulldogs have posted a winning record at home in each of the past 24 seasons, while its seniors currently boast a 47-16 record within the magical walls of Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Since 1995, Butler is a remarkable 246-42 (.854) in Hinke Fieldhouse (12-1 this season), and the Bulldogs are 4-2 this season against teams ranked in the Top 25. From a technical standpoint, Butler is a profitable 20-6-1 ATS at home versus teams with a road win percentage exceeding .600, 9-4 ATS in its last thirteen home games, 6-2 ATS in its last eight conference games, 5-0 ATS in its last five games versus teams with a winning record and 4-0 ATS in its last four games after failing to cover the point spread.
The Bulldogs are also 36-16-3 ATS at home versus teams with a winning road record and apply to a powerful 18-0 ATS angle of mine that invests on certain teams off a win, provided they failed to cover the point spread in the game. The situation also favors the Bulldogs as Villanova has a huge revenge game against Seton Hall on deck. That game carries extra significance in that the Pirates handed Villanova one of its only two losses this season.
Finally, my math model actually favors Butler by one point so we are getting excellent line value together with the strong fundamental and situational analysis. With Butler standing at 3-0 ATS versus .801 or greater opposition this season, 4-1 ATS as a conference underdog, take the Bulldogs plus the points and invest with confidence.