College Basketball Betting - Butler Gets the Chance to Take the Big Step Tonight

Those who really love college basketball betting are going to love the matchup between the UConn Huskies and Butler Bulldogs for the national championship, and now Butler gets the chance to take the big step after last year's near-miss. The game gets underway at 9:21 PM ET at Reliant Stadium in Houston, to be televised on CBS, and in the college basketball betting odds that are posted on the game, the Huskies are a 3.5-point favorite, with the total posted at 129.5 points.

College Basketball Betting

NCAA Championship

Butler Bulldogs (28-9 SU, 20-14-1 ATS) vs. UConn Huskies (31-9 SU, 22-12 ATS)

Live at Reliant Stadium

Houston, TX

Monday, April 4 -- 9:21 PM ET

TV: CBS

College Basketball Betting Odds:

UConn -3.5

Butler  +3.5

Odds  129.5

These teams are loaded with credentials in this college basketball betting matchup. UConn is 13-0 SU on neutral courts in what would be considered "knockout" games, where one loss means elimination. They are also unbeaten when going outside the conference (11-0 SU, 10-1 ATS). They are the champions from the best conference in America. They have the best player on the floor in Kemba Walker. And they have the coach in Jim Calhoun who is a veteran of two national championship teams.

Butler brings a streak of 14 consecutive wins into this game, and they have covered ten straight NCAA Tournament games in college basketball betting. In addition tho this, they have covered eight straight as a dog. They have the best and most versatile big man in the game in Matt Howard. And remember that the core of this group went to the national title game last year.

In analyzing the advantages in this game for college basketball betting purposes, I would say that UConn has more depth in its front court personnel, while Butler might be a little better in defending the perimeter. The Huskies probably make their free throws a little better, but I am going to give Butler a slight edge in mental toughness, only because they have continued to beat teams from bigger conferences  that seemingly have more talent.

And interestingly, UConn is probably the team with more balance. That's unusual for a team that has Kemba Walker on it, and it's got to be a factor in our college basketball betting here. Jeremy Lamb, the freshman, has scored in double digits in ten straight games, and that seems to have made a big difference, as Connecticut has won all those games. Shabazz Napier has developed as a point guard and that has enabled him to team with Walker in the backcourt at times. There is some scoring up front with Alex Oriakhi. So this is not a one-dimensional team.

Still, you have to figure that Walker is the dominant factor here, having taken so many more shots than anyone else in the lineup. And Butler may have the guy who can upset his rhythm. We're talking about Ronald Nored, who can't shoot that much but is a defensive specialist who helped limit the likes of Erving Walker, Jordan Taylor and Ashton Gibbs, among others. It will be no picnic for UConn on the outside, as it wasn't for the long-range bombers from VCU, who were only 8 of 22 as Butler covered another one in college basketball betting.

On the other side of the coin, the question of who Walker will guard is an interesting one, because Shelvin Mack has been almost as productive in this NCAA Tournament. Mack had 30 points against Pitt, 27 against Florida and 24 against VCU, making 16 treys in the last four games, and I can tell you that if Walker isn't defending him, a freshman will most likely get the assignment.

Of course, Butler does not have a lot of great offensive options, and that's a consideration in college basketball betting as well. If you go beyond Mack and Howard, there isn't anyone who can take the game into his own hands. Do they need it? This team has been very resourceful and has gotten a lot from role players, whether they are vets or youngsters. A key guy is Khyle Marshall, the freshman who has pulled down 32 rebounds in 88 minutes in the tournament.  The Bulldogs have certainly proven they can handle teams with more size, as they beat Old Dominion and Pittsburgh, the two top rebounding teams in the country. So don't bank on a lot of UConn "dominance" in the paint.

One factor that is always important in college basketball betting is pace, and Butler can certainly play at different speeds. They've shown it. And they are in luck here, because while VCU may have upset them at times with its full court presses, UConn doesn't press much (and if they do, it takes them out of THEIR game), and that is going to allow Butler to play at the pace they prefer on offense.

Look, we realize that aside from Mack, this team was cold at 28% shooting in the semi-final. But the Bulldogs have handled game pressure as well as anybody. They keep astonishing people when it seems they don't match up with their talent level. And I suppose they will make UConn find another "go-to guy" if they can based on the caliber of opponents they have beaten; not just this season but in last year's event as well, there is nothing to suggest Butler doesn't have the mental or physical capacity to win this game. And so it makes sense to take the points in college basketball betting.

JAY'S PLAY:  BUTLER +3.5 ***
(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)