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Butler vs UConn NCAAB Championship Picks & Predictions

by Michael Kashin on Monday, April 4th, 2011

The 2011 college basketball tournament will conclude on Monday as the #4 Connecticut Huskies will face the #8 Butler Bulldogs in the NCAAB championship game. Tip off for this game is set for 9:23pm ET on CBS with Houston’s Reliant Stadium hosting this year’s big game. This game will feature two teams that struggled at some points during the regular season but both have peaked at the right time, and are currently the two hottest schools in the nation. Jim Calhoun is twice as old as Butler’s Brad Stevens, but Stevens has been coaching like he’s been doing this for just as long.

Butler doesn’t have the length on the perimeter to bother Kemba Walker like Kentucky did, so Walker could be in line for a better offensive game. The rest of Walkers teammates have been stepping up at the most critical time. Shabazz Napier, who hit the game-clinching free throws against Kentucky, has provided a tremendous spark of energy off the bench. He has an immediate impact on both sides of the floor as soon as Coach Jim Calhoun calls his number. Between Walker and Napier, the Huskies should be able to stretch the Butler defense and create a ton of open looks. The NCAA basketball odds at are listing the Huskies as -3.5 point favorites in what will be the final game of a magical college basketball betting season. I may be the only one, but I have a feeling that Connecticut is going to run away with this one.

Butler has several talented guards, but Shelvin Mack is the anchor of the backcourt, as he showed again in the victory over VCU. He hit 5 of 6 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 24 points. He scored 10 consecutive points during a span of almost three minutes to help the Bulldogs turn a one-point lead into a seven-point advantage. We know Mack will get his share of points, but Matt Howard will have to be more productive than he was against VCU. Although Howard contributed in every aspect of the game, 3 for 10 from the floor will not help Butler keep up with Connecticut’s offense. I think Butler will struggle to contain the Huskies’ backcourt and if the Bulldogs get into some early foul trouble, it is going to spell disaster because the Huskies never stop attacking the rim and forcing teams into the penalty.

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