Vegas Odds: Butler by 2.5 -- Bet at bodog
Why UTEP will win:
Considering UTEP was in the Top 25 heading into the last week, a 12 seed is simply disrespectful. UTEP won 16 games in a row before the loss to Houston in the CUSA finals. They've beaten 8 Top 75 teams this year.. and more impressively, 6 of those wins were on the road so. With Randy Culpepper in the backcourt, and Derrick Caracter down low, UTEP can beat you on the inside or out.
Miner to Watch:
Jeremy Williams, F - 10 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg
Players like Caracter, Culpepper, and PG Julyan Stone tend to be rather consistent, but you never know what Williams is going to bring. At 6-7 he has good size, and is at his best when he's getting to the rim and going to the charity stripe. He's been rather blah in recent games and needs to step up.
Why Butler will win:
As impressive as UTEP's 16-game winning streak was, Butler counters with a 20-game winning streak of their own. Unlike UTEP, Butler is no stranger to the big dance and has played bigger games this year against the likes of OSU, Xavier, Clemson, and Georgetown (splitting those games). Butler arguably should have been a 3 or 4 seed instead of a 5.
Bulldog to Watch:
Shelvin Mack, G - 14 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg
It seems like Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard get more pub, but you don't see as many players who are as rock solid as Mack. He can handle, he can pass, he can shoot the 3, he can play good D.
How it will go down:
Both of these teams got screwed in seeding. This is more like a Sweet Sixteen game that happens to be in the first round. For all of Butler's success this year, their performance against Tourney-qualityish teams was rather blah, losing to Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown, UAB, only beating Xavier at home by 1, and struggling to put away an OSU team that didn't have Evan Turner.
Betting Pick: UTEP
Real Pick: UTEP (This is basically a pick'em game to me. But if you're in a pool with bonus upset points, UTEP is a no-brainer)