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Final Four Odds Favors Duke Over Butler

They’re down to two in Indianapolis, and believe it or not one of them is Butler. The other, Duke, isn’t much of a surprise considering its illustrious history, and the Blue Devils are the oddsmakers’ favorite.

The Bulldogs are the biggest surprise in the tournament since George Mason’s improbable run to the Final Four in 2006. Butler is the sentimental favorite for most of the nation in Monday night’s final for at least a couple of reasons.

First, they’re the underdog, and there aren’t many people who don’t like to cheer for the underdog. Secondly, they’re facing the Duke Blue Devils, the team so many college basketball fans love to hate. Will this sentimentality lead to more betting on the Bulldogs? It just might, since Butler is a 7-point underdog at Bovada in the game.

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Not only have the Bulldogs been rolling through the tournament, but they’ve also extended their lengthy winning streak to 25 games. Butler hasn’t lost since falling to UAB way back on December 22. They made it 25 in a row in the Final Four on Saturday by taking care of fellow No. 5 seed Michigan State 52-50 as a 1.5-point favorite. The Bulldogs struggled in the game, shooting only 30% ,and at one point they went 11 minutes without a field goal.
However, their tough defense kept the Spartans in check and kept them from falling behind. Butler was able to count on Gordon Hayward, their best player and arguably the best player in the entire tournament. Hayward delivered 19 points and nine rebounds, while Shelvin Mack posted 14 points. The Blue Devils are back in the championship game for the first time since 2001 after hammering West Virginia 78-57 in the Final Four. The Blue Devils’ big three of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith all shot well in the game and were on fire from three-point range. Scheyer led the way with 23 points, Singler netted 21 points, and Smith had 19 points. Combined the trio shot 12-of-23 from beyond the arc.

The last time the Blue Devils faced the Bulldogs it was a one-sided affair with Duke winning 80-60 as a 14-point home favorite. Don’t expect that same result in the rematch; considering how they took care of Syracuse and Kansas State the Bulldogs won’t be run out of the arena this time. Duke has gone 5-0 ATS through the tournament so far and only one of their games was close - and they still beat Baylor by seven points.

No offense to the Bulldogs, but covering seven points against Butler shouldn’t be too hard for the sharp-shooting Blue Devils. Duke boasts one of the top offenses and their three-headed monster of Scheyer, Singler, and Smith will be too much to handle. If they keep popping threes the Bulldogs will have a hard time keeping up. Duke should also have the advantage on the glass, led by center Brian Zoubek, forward Miles Plumlee, and also Singler. If the Bulldogs run into scoring trouble the way they did against the Spartans, the Blue Devils will capitalize.

The total for the game has come in low at 129. Butler’s stout defense has meant low scores, and they’ve gone 4-1 UNDER in the tournament and 6-1 UNDER in their last seven. Duke started the tournament with three straight UNDER results but they’ve gone OVER in their last three games, and breaking the Bulldogs’ defense should lead to another OVER on Monday night.

Final Four Pick: Duke -7, UNDER 129