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No. 15 Butler is one of two ranked teams in the Atlantic 10 – along with No. 24 Virginia Commonwealth – but neither team has been able to figure out Saint Louis. The Bulldogs will take one final shot at the conference leaders Friday when they host the Billikens. Saint Louis, which holds a half-game lead over the Bulldogs and Rams, began the conference season 1-2 but has been the best team in the league since.
Much like the Billikens’ first meeting against Butler – a 75-58 home victory on Jan. 31 – Saint Louis used stifling defense to defeat VCU on Tuesday and won its eighth straight game, improving to 2-0 against the more highly-regarded schools in the Atlantic 10. The Bulldogs, who are 5-1 since their loss to the Billikens, are 13-1 at Hinkle Fieldhouse and figure to improve on their dreadful 23-turnover performance in the first meeting.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (20-5, 9-2 Atlantic 10): Following the loss to the Billikens in January, Butler coach Brad Stevens said, "It was an absolute joy to watch one team play. The problem was, it wasn't the team I coached." St. Louis enjoys the conference’s stingiest scoring defense (57.9) and ranks second in the A-10 with 11.4 turnovers per game. The Billikens held VCU’s conference-leading offense 16 points below its season average and became only the second team this season to commit fewer than 10 turnovers against the Rams’ vaunted pressure defense.
ABOUT BUTLER (22-5, 9-3): Rotnei Clarke continued his scoring spree in Tuesday’s win and is averaging 18.9 points since his return from a neck injury eight games ago, leading his team in scoring each time. The Bulldogs are 14-0 when Khyle Marshall (9.9 points) scores in double figures, but the junior forward endured one of the worst performances of his career in the first meeting, scoring two points in 10 minutes before fouling out. Butler has outrebounded 10 of its last 11 opponents. Stevens is two wins shy of tying Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon (2004-09) for the most wins by a coach in his first six seasons in Division I history.
* The over is 5-1 in the Billikens’ last six games.
* Saint Louis is 8-0 ATS in its last eight games.
* The under is 4-1 in Butler’s last five games.
* The Bulldogs have only covered once in their last four games.
1. Saint Louis is 3-1 against top-25 opponents, but has never defeated four ranked foes in the same season.
2. Butler is 82-12 at Hinkle Fieldhouse under Stevens.
3. All eight of the victories during the Billikens’ winning streak are by double digits – a first in their 97-year history.
Something is rotten in the state of Mississippi. Starkville, Mississippi to be more exact.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs haven’t won since January 5 – a string of 11 straight losses – and first-year head coach Rick Ray is captaining a sinking ship that is minus a few lifeboats, with players bailing right and left.
He recently suspended second-leading scorer Jalen Steele, who returned in Wednesday’s loss to Alabama, and cut ties with forward Roquez Johnson, who started eight games, for violating team rules.
Fading MSU during its 11-game skid would have made you a pretty penny, with the Bulldogs posting a 3-8 ATS mark in that span. However, like most trends in sports betting, that value only lasts so long.
But don’t worry. There are more teams with one foot out the door on this season – some that were expected to compete in their conference and make the cut for the NCAA. With only a few weeks left on the schedule, expect these four programs to pack it in early.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-9 SU, 13-11-1 ATS)
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the Golden Gophers, who were a live underdog in the Big Ten entering the year. Things started off well enough, with Minnesota putting in a strong non-conference effort and opening Big Ten play with three straight wins.
Since then, the Gophs are just 3-7 SU and head coach Tubby Smith is beginning to feel the heat. An upcoming matchup versus No. 1 Indiana could be the straw that breaks the Gophers’ back.
Oregon State Beavers (13-13 SU, 12-10-0 ATS)
The most notable thing Craig Robinson has done in this past month is photobomb his brother in-law, President Barak Obama, during his inauguration. As for his day job, the Oregon State head coach is just plain bombing.
The Beavers have just three wins in their last 10 games and have suffered crushing defeats during that span, watching leads disappear late into games. Those types of losses weigh on a veteran squad that has seen the same things happen each year of Robinson’s four-year tenure.
Nevada Wolf Pack (12-13 SU, 9-13-2 ATS)
You can’t blame Nevada head coach David Carter for his recent outburst following the Wolf Pack’s fifth loss in the last six games – the MWC is beast this year. Carter lashed out at his team following a late-game collapse in an overtime loss to Fresno State saying, “Next year there’s going to be some changes. You had your chance.” He called the defeat the low point of his 14-year career in Reno.
Nevada was expected to run among the top teams in the Mountain West but even with a roster packed with upperclassmen, the Wolf Pack have fallen way short. Carter isn’t likely going to lose his job but he is in danger of losing his team. There’s also a good chance he’ll lose his remaining games, which all come against the who’s-who in the MWC.
Florida State Seminoles (14-12 SU, 9-14-1 ATS)
Florida State was another program with positive expectations entering the season. Some preview publications tabbed them as a Top-25 team despite the fact they lost four starters from last season. But with those starters went FSU’s toughness.
Leonard Hamilton teams aren’t used to getting pushed around. The Seminoles, usually among the elite in defending and rebounding, are allowing 68 points a night (218th) and are weak on the glass (316th), which has become the bane of their ACC existence. If FSU’s young bucks aren’t buying into Hamilton’s philosophies by now, they are never going to get it.
-- Saint Louis (-2.5) waxed Butler 75-58 Jan 31, forcing 23 turnovers and shooting 58% inside arc; Billikens won eight in row, 17 of last 19 games, with all eight wins by 9+ points- they're 4-1 on A-16 road, winning last four, all by 9+ points. Butler won five of last six games; they're 5-1 at home in league, with four wins by 12+ points. A-16 home favorites of 5 or less points are 19-11 against the spread.
-- Harvard (-11.5) beat Brown 89-82 in double OT Feb 2, after blowing 11-point halftime lead and leading by 22 with 12:58 left; Brown was 12 of 32 from arc, Crimson 10-23- they shot 65% inside arc. Harvard is 2-1 in Ivy League road games, winning 2-10 points- they've won six of last seven games overall. Brown lost four of last five games; they've won two of three at home in league play, losing to Cornell by three.
-- Dartmouth (+3) beat Yale 71-62 at home Feb 2, shooting 61% inside arc; their subs were 12-16. Big Green lost last three games, by 23-18-10 points; they're 1-2 on Ivy road- only one of their six league losses is by less than 10 points. Yale was 5-24 from arc in loss at Hanover; they are 3-1 in last four games, winning by 9-4-19 points. Ivy League double digit home favorites are 3-6 against the spread.
-- Princeton is 5-2 in Ivy, splitting its two road games; Tigers (-8.5) beat Columbia 72-66 at home Feb 2, running to 27-13 lead in first 10:32, then blowing lead before pulling away late. Princeton made 8-11 from arc, had 19-10 edge on foul line. Lions lost six of last seven games, but five of six losses were by six or less points- they're 1-2 at home, with both losses by three points. Ivy League home underdogs are 5-3 vs spread.
-- Cornell (+2.5) won 71-69 at Penn Feb 2, after trailing by 10 at 13:39 mark; Quakers were 12-24 from arc, 1-3 from foul line, bit Cornell made 63% of shots inside arc. Penn is 1-2 on Ivy road, losing by 12-19 points; but losses were to Harvard/Princeton, two best teams in league. Cornell won its last three games, allowing 61 ppg, but they've lost two of three at home. Ivy League single digit home favorites are 6-7 vs spread.
-- North Dakota State is 4-4 in last eight games, losing three of last four on road, scoring 52.7 ppg in three losses; Bison is 0-3 vs top 100 teams this season, losing by 26-13-15 points- their best win came in split vs #101 South Dakota State. Akron won its last 17 games; their opponents shoot 41% inside arc, #7 in country. Zips allowed 54.5 ppg in their last four games. Last nine North Dakota State games stayed under total.
-- SF Austin is 22-3, 13-2 in Southland; their defensive 40.5%eFG leads country, as foes make 26.3% from arc against them. Fourth road game in row for Lumberjacks, who are 7-2 on road in league, but also have four non-D-I wins (#289 schedule)- they played at Sam Houston two nights ago. Long Beach is 13-2 in Big West after facing #1 non-league schedule in country, going 4-7. 49ers are 0-6 this season vs top 100 teams.