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UTEP vs Butler Picks – Bulldog Tenacity Should Prevail

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/16/2010 3:00:53 PM

It’s one of the mysteries of the NCAA Tournament. Online betting gurus are aware that in recent years, 12 seeds fare better than 11 seeds in this event. This means that fifth-seeded teams struggle more than sixth-seeded teams do. How should you tackle the 5-12 first-round games in this tournament? How should you view this particular collision between No. 5 Butler and No. 12 UTEP? Read on to find out.

  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Thursday, March 18th – Approx. 5:05 PM ET
  • Where: HP Pavilion – San Jose, CA
  • Key Stat: The two NCAA Tournament teams UTEP has beaten – Houston and New Mexico State – both defeated the Miners this season in multiple-game head-to-head series

The UTEP-Butler Storyline

This is a 5-12 game that has “upset” written all over it, for all the usual reasons. People who follow sportsbook odds know that 34 fifth-seeded teams have lost in the NCAA Tournament since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 (from 53 teams in 1984). That’s an average of just under 1.4 losses per year for No. 5 seeds. Since there are four 5-12 games in each tournament, the numbers indicate that fifth seeds win only a little more than half the time against 12 seeds. Last year, 12 seeds went 3-1 against fifth seeds, as Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, and Arizona bumped off Florida State, Illinois and Utah, respectively. Only Purdue carried the banner for the “five alive” group by fending off 12th-seeded Northern Iowa in a close game.

Why do 12 seeds enjoy so much success compared to other double-digit seeds in the first round? There are two major reasons for this. First, a No. 12 seed is often a team that just barely got into the NCAA Tournament as one of the final at-large selections made by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Once in a while, a 13 seed is the last at-large team invited to the field, but in most years, a 12 seed is the last team to make the cut among the 34 at-large teams who are allowed into the Dance. In many of these 5-12 games, the 12 seed is not from a tiny conference; it’s from an established mid-major league or a conference that rates higher than a mid-major. Teams from the small conferences occupy all of the truly low seeds (14-16) and most of the 13-seed slots, but more established programs often fall onto the “12 line,” as seeding gurus would say. This is one big reason why 5-12 games are competitive.

Offensive Matchups

Both teams are balanced. Butler likes to shoot the ball from the perimeter, but the Bulldogs have guys who can put the ball on the deck and get to the rim. Gordon Hayward is the straw that stirs the drink for Butler. He might not always score a lot, but he draws so much attention from opposing defenses that he spreads the floor for his teammates. UTEP relies on big man Derrick Caracter, a beefy low-post presence who loves to back down his defender and make a power move to the tin. UTEP has more size and will want to avoid taking too many threes.

Betting Edge: Even

Defensive Matchupss

Sports betting fans should be aware of the fact that Butler allows an even 60 points per game. The Bulldogs are always in position and rarely get beat on the dribble. UTEP guard Randy Culpepper will have a very hard time breaking down the stingy defense of coach Brad Stevens’ ballclub. UTEP is solid defensively, but the Miners really let down their guard in the C-USA Tournament final against Houston. Butler has to be given an edge here

Betting Edge: Butler

Injuries

There are no significant injuries for either team

Betting Edge: Even

Betting Prediction: UTEP vs Butler Picks

The thing about the 5-12 matchups in this year’s tournament is that while the 12 seeds are really good – UTEP is a terrific team – the 5 seeds are better. Butler has defeated three NCAA Tournament teams this season and has not lost since Dec. 22 against UAB. This will be very close, and UTEP has a really good chance to win, but Butler has the tools to dig out a win against the Miners.

Washington’s Pick: Butler

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