BUTLER BULLDOGS (3-1)
vs. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (5-0)
Maui Invitational Championship Ė Maui, HI
Tip-off: Wednesday, 10:00 p.m. ET
Line: Illinois -1.5, Total: 133.5
Upstart Butler and Illinois meet in the Maui Invitational final on Wednesday evening.
Butler reached the final in dramatic fashion, with a buzzer-beater to beat Marquette in the first round and a hot shooting night to knock off tournament favorite North Carolina in the second. Illinois has been shooting it just as well, hitting 40.4% from three in Maui and blowing out both of its opponents (USC by 30 and Chaminade by 23).
Who will take home the Maui title? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. This season, the experts are a collective 48-44-2 ATS (52.2%) on Best Bets. StatFox Scott has had a perfect record in the past two nights, going 5-0 ATS to improve to 56% ATS (9-7-1) for the season. StatFox Gary is 9-5 ATS (64%) in the past eight days and 58% ATS (11-8) Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 10-5 ATS (67%) since Saturday, including a perfect 4-0 ATS on Monday. He's at 53% ATS (16-13) for the season.
After shaky shooting performances in their previous two games (8-for-39, 20.5% on threes), the Bulldogs were 12-for-25 from behind the arc in the upset of Carolina. Their backcourt fuels their offense, and Rotnei Clark and Kellen Dunham were on fire on Tuesday, scoring 17 points apiece and combining to shoot 9-for-15 (60%) from three. PF Khyle Marshall could also be a factor against an inconsistent Illinois frontline. Marshall had 10 points and 11 rebounds in the Carolina win, one night after going for 24 points and nine boards against Marquette.
Illinois has cruised to two easy victories in Maui. They held Division II Chaminade at armís length all night on Tuesday, an 84-61 win. G Brandon Paul is averaging 19.6 PPG on 50% FG and 47% 3-pt FG on the season, and backcourt mate D.J. Richardson (11.4 PPG) scored in double-digits for the third straight game against Chaminade, though heís shooting only 34% FG on the season. As a team, the Illini are shooting 41% of their threes this year. They are susceptible up front though. In their tune-up for Maui, they went to overtime with Hawaii, winning 78-77, but getting outrebounded 51-31. They have bounced back for an average rebounding margin of +15.5 RPG in Maui.