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January 4, 2017

There are two picks tonight.

#1: Take Butler +2.5 spread against Villanova for 3% of the bankroll.

This is an interesting matchup as the number 1 ranked team in the country, the Villanova Wildcats travel to Indianapolis Indiana to take on the Butler Bulldogs. There is no question that Villanova is a quality program. They managed to win the NCAA Tournament last year and managed to pick right back up from where they left off a season ago. They are arguably one of the most "complete" teams in the country and have attained their undefeated record with a mix of finesse and sharpshooting that no team has been able to conquer as of yet. We believe that will change tonight.

The Butler Bulldogs are no longer a team that can be overlooked. Over the last decade, they have proven to be an elite program that hasn't yet fully gotten the respect that they deserve. They are hard-nosed, battle tested and playing at Hinkle Fieldhouse has been one of the most daunting of places for opposing teams to try and compete in. Simply stated, Butler does not lose often in this venue and have yet to taste defeat here this season. Like their counterparts, the Bulldogs are a fundamentally sound team on both sides of the ball. They can shoot, they can rebound and they play solid defense. They have all of the tools necessary to compete with any team in the country. This will certainly be an entertaining matchup.

Villanova has certainly been the hottest team in the country and now that they have gotten into the spotlight, the betting public has fallen in love with them. These two teams are extremely similar, only Villanova has gotten by far and away, the most attention. There is no question that Hinkle Fieldhouse will be an extremely raucous place tonight and we expect that will have a negative effect on Villanova in this contest. We have seen what happens when high ranking teams take to the road in conference rivalry games and you had better believe the fans will be cheering for the upset in this contest.

At some point in time, Villanova is going to lose a game and the fact that the oddmakers have listed them this short a favorite speaks volumes on how they expect this contest to end. This should be an extremely close and entertaining battle between two NCAA Tournament teams this season. In the end, we expect the Bulldogs to clamp down and make the needed shots in the end in order to pull off the upset. However, if Villanova does happen to win this game, we expect it will be with the final shot, in which the points could prove to be valuable.

#2: Take Vanderbilt -6 spread against Auburn for 3% of the bankroll.

Auburn finished nine games under .500 and went just 5-13 in Conference play a season ago. This year, the team is off to a much better start and already just a single victory away from matching last year’s win total. In non-conference play, their only setbacks have come against a nationally ranked Purdue team (by 25 points) and to Boston College by a single point. Since the loss to the Eagles the team reeled off four in a row, including back-to-back wins vs. Oklahoma and UConn before dropping the SEC home opener to Georgia by 12. While there is no question that this Auburn team is much improved from a season ago, they have largely remained unproven and we expect that they are going to find things much more difficult now that conference play has begun.

The Vanderbilt Commodores had a shaky start in their non-conference schedule coming away with as many wins as they had losses. That being said, they started conference play off on the right foot with a 7-point victory over LSU in Baton Rouge. We don't believe we have seen the full potential of the Commodores as of yet and because of their rocky start, perception of this team has not caught up with the sheer amount of talent they have on their roster. They currently have three double-digit scorers on their roster and are averaging 72.9 points per game on 43% shooting from the field. Where the Commodores have done a bulk of their damage however has been from the perimeter as they are one of the conference's best 3-point shooting teams currently hitting over 40% of their shots from long range. If they are hitting their outside shots, they are an incredibly tough team to beat.

Despite the disparity of their overall records and the current perception of both of these teams, this has been a series that has been completely dominated by the Commodores over the years, particularly in Nashville. Auburn is just 1-10 ATS in the last 11 of this series and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 played in this venue. Meanwhile, the favorite has gone a near-perfect 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings. These are all trends that we expect to continue as the 3-point ball leads the Commodores to another conference victory tonight.

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