College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Butler vs. Penn State (Monday, Nov. 14)

Butler vs. Penn State Odds

The Gavitt Games, the annual series of tilts between Big East and Big Ten foes, kicks off Monday night with an intriguing matchup between two teams that have stuck close to their respective conferences in recent history.

Penn State will host Butler in State College, giving both teams an early opportunity to gauge their new squads.

The Nittany Lions are favored at home, with two wins from two blowouts against lesser competition. Can they continue their hot start?


Butler is now under the tutelage of former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, his first job since leaving Columbus with health issues. He takes over a Butler program that has been in disarray since its heyday at the turn of this century. In the 11 years since Brad Stevens led the Bulldogs to the national finals, Butler has only 5 NCAA Tournament appearances and a lone trip to the Sweet 16.

Mata is Butler’s fourth coach since Stevens left for the NBA. During this stretch of the year, the Bulldogs have played in three different conferences. Overall, it felt like a program that can’t catch its breath.

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Matta, aided by some returning talent from last year’s team, looks to bring some stability to the program. Junior guard Chuck Harris is the key name, averaging double figures in scoring in each of his first two seasons on campus.

Harris and his other returning contributors are flanked by two key signings. Eric Hunter was a key player for a good Purdue team last year and could bring that and more as a fifth-year senior.

The difference maker should be Manny Bates, formerly of NC State. In 2020-21, he was a promising sophomore for the Wolfpack, averaging 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. Last season, in the first minute of the first game of the season, he suffered an injury that put him out for the year.

If he’s fully healthy and develops the way you’d expect, he could be a big factor for Butler and among the best bigs in the Big East.

In Micah Shrewsberry’s first year at the State College helm, the Nittany Lions saw plenty of results. Facing the gauntlet of a Big Ten program, Penn State hung tough and finished 7-13 in the conference. Penn State struggled all season, but often came up short and finished with a 6-10 record in games decided by seven points or less.

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Although the Lions lost some contributors under center, Shrewsberry was able to add talent from mid-major programs in the state.

Andrew Funk brings a silky jump shot from Bucknell and will help the floor. The key addition, however, was Camren Wynter, formerly of Drexel. He is a scorer at every level of the defense and had 27 25+ point games with the Dragons.

If it can raise its game to handle power conference opponents, Penn State has a real chance to do more than compete in Big Ten play this season. Wynter, Shrewsberry and company could seal Penn State’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2011.


Butler vs. Penn State betting pick

This game will do wonders to showcase both of these teams against future opponents, however there isn’t much information on either team yet.

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In Butler’s lone game so far, he dismantled a bad New Orleans team. Penn State has played twice, but both were upsets against Winthrop and Loyola (MD), each expected to put up a better fight. Penn State easily covered the 12.5 and 18.5 spreads in those games.

Through a tiny sample size of just two games, Penn State leads the nation in effective field goal percentage. That’s not likely to continue, however Shrewsberry is building something on the offensive end of the floor. I’m buying it in November more than I believe in a quick turnaround from Matta.

That line hovers around nine spots, which is where I like the Nittany Lions. Anything higher than Penn State -9.5 seems like overkill, so hopefully you find the number there or better.

If you’re looking for a little analytical security blanket, KenPom loves Penn State, ranking the Lions 32nd when most models have them outside the top 50. The numbers there are like Penn State in this game by 12, so the home team is -9 feels like the right game.

Choose: Penn State -9

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