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College Basketball Butler Bulldogs at Xavier Musketeers Preview: Start Time, Spread, Free Pick

ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon continues on Tuesday and we will see the Butler Bulldogs  travel to take on the Xavier Musketeers. The game is scheduled for a 4:00 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised live on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have Butler favored by 5 points while the total sits at 134.  Check out Sportsbook Spy to see who the Public is taking on all of today's games. 

Free Analysis: Despite the fact that both of these teams are in the A-10 this is not a conference game. This game was already on the schedule last season whenever Butler was still in the Horizon League and the two schools decided to go ahead with the game. 

Butler is making the move to the A-10 after spending the last few seasons as darlings of the mid-major scene. The Bulldogs made five straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 2006-2011 including back-to- back trips to the NCAA Championship game, with both times ending in heart break. Still the Bulldogs would certainly trade for that type of success over last season's outcome. Even though the Bulldogs got a postseason berth with an invite to the College Basketball Invitational, Brad Stevens has made Butler a team for which anything short of an NCAA Tournament berth is a failure. the Bulldogs lost only one starter from last season's 22-15 squad and also got a huge upgrade in Arkansas-transfer Rotnei Clarke. In the opener, Butler got exactly what they were looking for in their season opener whenever guard Rotnei Clarke showed why he is the impact transfer we all thought he was going to be, as he dropped 21 points in only 22 minutes and provided the long range shooting that the Bulldogs were desperately missing last year.  Clarke connected on 5 threes on only 10 attempts and will need to keep up his impressive play if the Bulldogs are going to have a shot at the A-10 crown.  The Bulldogs also saw what the future holds in highly touted Freshmen Kellen Dunham, who scored 18 in his collegiate debut.

Any discussion of teams in the mix for the A-10 crown always seems to have Xavier mentioned heavily and for good reason, as the Musketeers have made seven straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, have been ranked in the top 25 at some point in six of those seasons and are one of just four teams to make a run to the Sweet 16 in each of the last five years. This year will not be an easy one for coach Chris Mack, who saw so many key players depart his team this year.  Gone for Xavier are Mark Lyons and Dezmine Wells who combined to average 28 points a game and highly touted freshman was ruled ineligible for the enter 2012-2013 season. Mack is going to rely on seniors Brad Redford, Jeff Robinson, and Travis Taylor to help bridge the gap between them and the underclassman. The Musketeers were ranked just ninth in the conference last season in assists per game (13.1 pg). The target of the majority of those passes will go to Dezmine Wells. The 6-5 swing man (9.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder and will be called upon to carry much of the offensive load this time around.

Free Pick: I will look to the Under in this one: Butler does have a few more scoring options this year and they have a long range threat as well, in Arkansas-transfer Rotnei Clarke, but this is still not a run and gun team and they still can play some excellent defense. For Xavier this year we will see a team that will struggled to score, especially in the early going, with all the new faces they have. Last year they had Tu Holliday to run their show, but he is gone and they may have to slow it down in the beginning of the year. Xavier is usually a team that plays great defense and I see them doing so in this one as well. I say go low in this one.

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