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Thursday's Tips

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**Butler at Saint Louis**

--Most books opened Saint Louis (14-5 SU, 8-9 ATS) as a two-point favorite with a total of 122 ½. As of early this morning, SLU was favored by 2.5 and the total was up to 123. Gamblers can take the Bulldogs to win outright for a plus-125 payout (risk $100 to win $125).

--Butler (17-3 straight up, 13-5 against the spread) has won 14 of its last 15 games and has taken the cash six consecutive times out. The Bulldogs are off Saturday’s 83-71 win over Temple as six-point home favorites. After missing three straight games, Rotnei Clarke returned to the lineup and produced 24 points and nine assists. Khyle Marshall and Kellen Dunham added 19 and 17 points, respectively.

--Saint Louis has won 11 of its 13 home games, going 5-6 ATS. The Billikens have been single-digit home favorites twice, winning and covering easily both times in double-digit wins over New Mexico and Valpo.

--Saint Louis returns home in this spot after back-to-back wins on the road. The Billikens won a 67-57 decision Saturday at St. Bonaventure, hooking up their backers as three-point road ‘chalk.’ Dwayne Evans led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds.

--Brad Stevens’s team is led by Clarke, a transfer from Arkansas. Clarke is averaging a team-high 16.4 points per game while knocking down 43.4 percent of his attempts from 3-point land.

--When Butler needs to ice a lead at crunch time, it has two of the nation’s top free-throw shooters. Clarke makes 86.4 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe, while Dunham, a freshman who averages 11.2 PPG, is shooting at a 91.2 percent clip from the free-throw line.

--Butler has been an underdog eight times this season, going 7-1 ATS with six outright victories.

--The ‘under’ is 6-3 overall for Saint Louis, 3-1 in its home games with a total.

--The ‘over’ is 9-5 overall for Butler, but the ‘under’ is 3-1 its last four games.

--Tip-off is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network (613 on DirecTV).

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**Arizona at Washington**

--As of early this morning, most spots were listing Arizona (17-2 SU, 9-8 ATS) as a five-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 139 ½. Bettors can take the Huskies on the money line for a plus-205 return (risk $100 to win $205).

--Arizona is tied with Arizona St. for third place in the Pac-12, two games back of conference-leading Oregon. The Wildcats have lost at Oregon and vs. UCLA in league play. They bounced back from last Thursday’s home loss to the Bruins by destroying USC on Saturday, 74-50, as 14-point home ‘chalk.’

--Washington (12-8 SU, 10-8 ATS) is in serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season. The Huskies, with their RPI of 70, can give their resume a big boost if they can upset Arizona (#4 in RPI) tonight. They are 1-4 against RPI Top 50 teams but do have four quality wins over teams ranked 50-100 in the RPI (vs. Seton Hall, vs. Saint Louis, at California and at Stanford).

--Lorenzo Romar’s squad has lost three in a row but had won four straight prior to this three-game slide. The Huskies are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. They have won seven of 11 home games this year, posting a 4-5 spread record. They have not been home underdogs this year until tonight.

--UW is led by junior guard C.J. Wilcox, who is averaging a team-high 19.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Wilcox is an excellent perimeter shooter, making 41.9 percent of his attempts from 3-point land.

--Arizona has been a road favorite five times this year, compiling a 3-2 spread record. The Wildcats are fourth in the RPI thanks to five Top 38 scalps over the likes of Florida, So. Miss, Miami, Colorado and San Diego St.

--The ‘under’ is 10-3-1 overall for Arizona, 4-1 in its five true road assignments.

--The ‘under’ is 5-4 overall for UW, 1-1 in its two home games with a total.

--ESPN will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Florida has covered the spread in eight consecutive games after blasting South Carolina by a 75-36 count as a 23 ½-point home favorite last night at The O-Dome in Gainesville. The Gators have won nine in a row and are 7-0 in SEC play with each victory coming by 17 points or more. Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario scored 15 points apiece for UF, which raced out to a 33-10 halftime lead over the Gamecocks. Billy Donovan’s team will host Ole Miss on Saturday. The Rebels are one game back of UF in the SEC standings with their first league loss coming Tuesday vs. Kentucky.

--USC poked a big hole in UCLA’s resume last night, beating its arch rival 75-71 in overtime as a 10-point road underdog. Aaron Fuller and Jio Fontan paced the Trojans with 15 points apiece.

--Iowa is a 14 ½-point home favorite over Penn St. tonight. ESPNU will have television coverage at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

--Alabama and Arkansas both own 12-7 records and will meet tonight at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa. Most spots have the Tide favored by six. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. 

--In the late game on ESPN2 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, Gonzaga will take on Loyola-Marymount as a 16 ½-point road favorite. The Lions have lost four in a row both SU and ATS and own an abysmal 1-6 straight-up record in WCC play. They have been home underdogs twice, however, going 2-0 ATS with an outright win over Santa Clara and a 73-70 loss to Ole Miss as 10-point home ‘dogs.

--Gonzaga has won five in a row over LMU, going 4-1 ATS. The ‘under’ has cashed in six straight head-to-head meetings between these WCC rivals.

--Gonzaga owns a 5-5-1 spread record in 11 spots as a double-digit ‘chalk’ this year.

--Western Kentucky will most likely be without one of its best players tonight vs. Troy. Jamal Crook, who averages 14.5 PPG, is 'doubtful' against the Trojans due to a foot injury. The Hilltoppers are 11-point home favorites. 

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.

  
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