|The DC pod includes a great 8/9 matchup between the
Butler Bulldogs and Old Dominion Monarchs.
Two of the hottest teams in the nation collide in a first-round NCAA Tournament Southeast Region game when eighth-seeded Butler
and ninth-seeded Old Dominion meet Thursday at 9:40 a.m. PT in Washington’s Verizon Center.
That can’t make Pittsburgh, the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region, too happy. The Panthers draw the winner of the Butler-Old Dominion should they advance as expected.
Not surprisingly, a low score is expected between the Bulldogs and Monarchs with the total set at 122 ½. Old Dominion is favored by two points.
Both teams are riding nine-game winning streaks. Old Dominion, winners of the Colonial Athletic Association Conference Tournament, is 13-1 in its last 14 games.
The Monarchs, 27-6, finished the season with the highest Ratings Percentage Index of any CAA team, two of which also made it to the NCAA Tournament in regular-season league champion George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth who takes on USC in a First Four contest on Wednesday. It’s the first time in CAA history that three teams made the NCAA Tournament.
Led by 6-foot-9 forward Frank Hassell the Monarchs ranked seventh in the nation in rebounding at 40.2 per game. Hassell averages 15 points, shoots 56.1 percent from the field and pulls down 9.6 rebounds per game.
Old Dominion wins with defense and rebounding as Notre Dame found out the hard way in first-round action last season. The Irish lost to the Monarchs, 51-50, as 2 ½-point favorites.
The Monarchs should have a good fan turnout being around 3 ½ hours from the Verizon Center.
Old Dominion has the fourth stingiest defense in the land holding foes to 58.3 points per game. Offensively, though, Old Dominion is just 259th putting up 65.8 points per contest.
Butler is 29-1 when yielding fewer than 60 points. The Bulldogs had a tremendous run last season reaching the 2010 Championship Game, losing to Duke, 61-59, as seven-point ‘dogs. This will be the Bulldogs’ fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Bulldogs, 23-9, aren’t as good as last season when they had Gordon Hayward, but they still are tough with forward Matt Howard and guard Shelvin Mack. Howard leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 16.7 points per game while Mack puts up 15.2 points per contest.
Butler tied for the best mark in the Horizon League with Cleveland State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Bulldogs then won the conference tournament by beating Cleveland State, 76-68, as 4 ½-point favorites and downing Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which was playing at home, 59-44, in the title game as 3 ½-point favorites.
Brad Stevens’ Butler crew was just 6-5 after 11 games in conference, but then went on its nine-game winning streak. The Bulldogs are 10-1 ATS when playing at a neutral site. They have covered in their past four NCAA Tournament matchups.
The Bulldogs defeated Florida State, 67-64, as two-point underdogs at a neutral site, lost at Xavier, 51-49, pushing on the spread as two-point ‘dogs, lost to Duke at a neutral site, 82-70, covering as 14 ½-point underdogs and got buried by Louisville, 88-73, as 1 ½-point ‘dogs.
Those games all were played before Christmas before the Bulldogs started peaking.
In its marquee matchups, Old Dominion defeated Cleveland State, 74-63, as 5 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ lost at Missouri, 81-58, as eight-point ‘dogs, defeated Xavier, 67-58, on a neutral court as three-point favorites, nipped Clemson, 61-60, on a neutral floor as 1 ½-point ‘dogs and lost to Georgetown at home, 62-59, as a 'pick.'
Butler doesn’t own a victory against Xavier like Old Dominion does, but the Bulldogs were 3-0 versus Cleveland State covering all three times in winning by a combined 43 points.
The ‘under’ has cashed in five of Butler’s last six games. The Bulldogs have gone ‘under’ during their last five NCAA Tournament matchups. The ‘over’ has cashed in five of Old Dominion’s last six games.