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Arizona favored against Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen

NCAA basketball tournament: Xavier Musketeers vs. Arizona Wildcats preview

Bet on Xavier vs. Arizona - March Madness Sweet SixteenTip-Off: Thursday, March 26th 2015 at 3:00pm ET
Venue: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California

The #2 Arizona Wildcats have been running through opponents in the early rounds of March Madness, but they’ll be tested in their Sweet Sixteen match-up against the #6 Xavier Musketeers in the West region.

Arizona beat Texas Southern (93-72) in the second round and Ohio State (73-58) in the third round. This is the third consecutive year that Arizona have made it to the Sweet Sixteen – they lost in the Sweet Sixteen in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014.

If the Wildcats continue trending up – logic suggests Arizona will win a regional final this year and qualify for the Final Four. However, Arizona is still far from the Final Four and they have a lot of work to do.

Xavier surprised me when they thrashed Ole Miss (76-57) in the second round, but they weren’t quite as sharp against Georgia State (75-67) in the third round. The Musketeers will need a stronger performance in order to eliminate Arizona from the tourney.

Xavier vs. Arizona betting lines

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At this point in the tournament you don’t expect to see double-digit favorites too often. Arizona are –11 in the point spread market and 72% of the early action has been on the Wildcats to cover ATS. The total opened up at 136 points and that’s too low.

Will the Musketeers upset the Wildcats in March Madness?

Arizona are now 33-3 this season and they’re one of the best teams in college hoops. Arizona scores 76.4 PPG (22nd) and they allow 59.0 PPG (15th). The Wildcats also rank 45th in rebounds (37.2 RPG), 67th in assists (14.2 APG) and 69th in steals (7.2 SPG).

The Wildcats had no problem eliminating Texas Southern. All five starters scored 12+ points, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Stanley Johnson put up 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting from the field (4 of 5 on 3-pointers).

Johnson led the Wildcats with an average of 14.0 PPG this season. He had a great first game, but he followed that up with 4 points against OSU on 1 of 12 shooting from the field (0 of 4 on 3-pointers). Johnson has to bounce back with a big game against Xavier.

Xavier are a great shooting team (47.3% from the field – 29th) and they rank 43rd in points scored (73.6 PPG). The Musketeers play team basketball (16.4 APG – 9th), but they lack size in the paint and only average 34.8 RPG (149th).

Defense has been a problem for Xavier all season, as they allow 67.3 PPG (196th). Xavier only averages 2.9 BPG (243rd) and 6.1 SPG (193rd) as well. They don’t force many turnovers and a balanced team like Arizona will have no problem winning the game SU.

Dee Davis led the Musketeers in assists (6.0 APG) this season, while averaging 8.9 PPG and 2.4 RPG. Davis has stepped up his play in the tournament and has been Xavier’s best player. Through two games – Davis has 32 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals.

The only way Xavier has a chance to win this game is if they’re unstoppable from beyond the arc. Xavier shoots 47.2% from 3-point land (20th) and they average 17 made 3-pointers per game (7th). However, if Arizona defends the 3-point line well they’ll dominate.

Xavier vs. Arizona over/under predictions

I’m torn on the point spread in this match-up, as –11 points is a lot to cover for Arizona. Sure, the Wildcats can put up points quickly and they play great defense, but Xavier is a streaky team and if they get off the deep ball they’ll have no problem keeping up.

The over/under seems too low for these two teams. Both teams average over 70.0 PPG and that’s a lot in college hoops. Now that we’re in the Sweet Sixteen, the nerves are gone for these young guys and I expect both teams to shoot the basketball well.

Arizona will definitely win the game, but covering against the spread is another question. I expect both teams to exceed 70 points and that’ll make covering for Arizona even tougher. The best bet in Xavier vs. Arizona is on the over 136 points.

I’m also jumping on the over in the 1st half market at 63.5 points (-110). Xavier have enough sharpshooters to cause some match-up problems for the Wildcats and if the Musketeers are draining 3’s there will be tons of points, as Xavier plays absolutely no defense.

ScottThis article was written by Scott

Scott is one of the original degenerates working for MobileSportsBetting.com. Although he's most successful betting on NFL football and international soccer, he's also active in UFC and NHL hockey betting.

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