Game to be played at BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
A decade ago, Butler began establishing itself as one of the gold standards for mid-major basketball programs. Relative unknown Middle Tennessee, a 12th seed which is coming off a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, will be looking to take another step toward that end when the Blue Raiders tangle with the fourth-seeded Bulldogs in the second round of the South Region on Saturday in Milwaukee.
Middle Tennessee, which led by as many as 17 in Thursday’s 81-72 triumph over fifth-seeded Minnesota, beat Michigan State in the first round last season as a No. 15 seed before falling to Syracuse. The Blue Raiders, who have already set a school record for wins (31), have won 20 of their last 21 games and have wins this season over SEC schools Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. “We think we belong on a national stage,” coach Kermit Davis said after Reggie Upshaw scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds against the Golden Gophers. “I don’t think (this was an upset). “I knew we’d play well. I think our record speaks for itself, and what we’ve done all year long.” Butler, which got a career high-tying six 3-pointers from Avery Woodson in an easy 76-64 win over No. 13 Winthrop on Thursday, is coming of its best regular season in program history but hasn’t advanced to the Sweet 16 since losing the national championship games in 2010 and 2011.
LINE HISTORY: Butler opened as 4.5-point favorites and that line has been bet down half-point to an even 4. The total opened at 141.5 and dropped to 140. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (31-4 SU, 24-10 ATS, 14-20 OU): Arkansas graduate transfer forward JaCorey Williams, the Conference USA Player of the Year who had 13 points and six boards in the first round, leads the team in scoring (17.2 points on 53 percent shooting) and rebounding (7.3). Junior guard Giddy Potts contributes 15.8 points, a team-high 76 3-pointers and 5.4 rebounds while Upshaw contributes 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. The Blue Raiders are a tough defensive team, yielding just 63.6 points per game while holding foes to 42 percent shooting and carrying a plus-3 turnover margin.
ABOUT BUTLER (24-8 SU, 18-12 ATS, 14-14-2 OU): The 6-2 Woodson (8.9 points, team-best 42.8 percent from the arc), a graduate transfer from Memphis, drained three shots from the arc in the opening four minutes against Winthrop and finished with 18 points. Senior forward Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four rebounds and three assists and junior forward Kelan Martin chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds. Martin leads the team in scoring (15.9) and rebounds (5.8) while Chrabascz adds 11 points per game and guards Kamar Baldwin, Kethan Savage and Tyler Lewis split time with Woodson in the backcourt and chip in a combined 24.5 points per game.
* Blue Raiders are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Bulldogs are 21-5-2 ATS in their last 28 NCAA Tournament games.
* Bulldogs are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win.
* Over is 5-1 in Blue Raiders last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 5-1 in Bulldogs last 6 games following a straight up win.
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