Editor’s note: This game got canceled due to positive COVID-19 cases in the Red Storm program
Big East partners Butler and St. John’s are coming off embarrassing losses. That should mean both will be raring to go to put that setback in the rearview mirror and attack this matchup with passion.
This is Butler’s (7-4, 3-7 ATS) initial Big East game for the season and they would like nothing more than to find a way to hang a ‘W’ after they were demolished 77-48 by Purdue. The best way to put that in the past is posting a victory.
St. John’s knows the feeling, just from another position. After starting 7-3, the Johnnies were 11-point point home favorites over Pittsburgh who came into their encounter 3-7, having lost to the Citadel and Maryland-BC by double digits as a favorite in each instance. St. John’s didn’t take Pitt seriously and scored a season-low 57 points to lose by two.
Butler Bulldogs vs. St. John’s Red Storm
Thursday, December 23, 2021 – 06:30 PM EST at Carnesecca Arena
Butler Fans Expect the Excellence They are Not Getting
LaVall Jordan is in his fifth season as Butler’s head coach and the locals are talking and it’s not all good. Though Purdue is one of the top teams in the country, the Butler faithful were shaken their team could lose by almost 30 points.
The nostalgia and history of Bulldogs basketball along with revitalization with Brad Stevens as the head coach and Gordon Hayward as the key player has changed expectations. Jordan’s best team, which was two years ago and never got to show what they could do with the NCAA Tournament canceled.
This Butler bunch is balanced with the top six scorers listed from 6.5 points a game to 11.6 PPG. Therein lies the problem. The Bulldogs score only 63.4 PPG and rank 347th in possessions per game, which is better than when used to shoot into peach baskets, but hardly good when you want to compete with the elite of the Big East.
This is not a good shooting team that has already shot under 37 percent five times and by trying to maximize possessions, Jordan thinks that gives his club the best chance to win.
St. John’s Team Has to Step Up
The loss to Pittsburgh can fall squarely on the fact that leading scorer Julian Champagnie and his 20 PPG were not in the lineup after testing positive for Covid the day before. While this certainly mattered to St. John’s, in retrospect one should have seen this coming.
The Red Storm has won six of their previous seven but was 1-6 ATS, being far below market expectations. Coach Mike Anderson would prefer to have his team less dependent on Champagnie, however, the holdovers from last year and transfers have not merged together as he had hoped.
Champagnie won’t be playing in this conflict either, missing the mandatory amount of time. Anderson stated after the upset, that he was bothered with everyone on his squad except for Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu. The word Anderson used, that everyone else lacked was “toughness” and he’ll be looking for signs of it to right the ship.
What is the Best Side to Bet On?
This confrontation is a battle of wills for college basketball picks. As mentioned, Butler likes to play a controlled game and St. John’s likes the chaos, averaging 13 more shots on average a game and forcing 18 turnovers. That is where the Bulldogs have to slow the game, stay in control and not fall prey to that style of play.
For these two clubs, being able to dictate the tempo has mattered in their matchups and the home team is 9-1 and 8-1-1 against the spread. With the Red Storm at home, they play their style the majority of the time and beat the spread.
NCAAB Pick: St. John’s -6 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook