NCAA March Madness: Texas Longhorns vs. Xavier Musketeers betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 2 vs. 3 matchup in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, the Texas Longhorns face the Xavier Musketeers for a spot in the Elite Eight. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Texas vs. Xavier
When: Friday, 9:45 p.m. ET
Where: Kansas City, Missouri
Odds for Texas vs. Xavier
Spread: Texas -4
(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 19th at 2:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
Midwest Region No. 2 Seed Texas Longhorns
Texas battled through adversity early in the season, with head coach Chris Beard's off-court issues leading to his firing. Rodney Terry has done a remarkable job filling in for the Longhorns, who were one of the hottest teams in basketball in the second half of the season. The Longhorns have legitimate firepower in the backcourt in guards Marcus Carr, Sir'Jabari Rice and Tyrese Hunter. The team is deep with contributors, and this group can defend, too. Their victory over the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament final proves they can win this entire tournament. They covered as 14-point favorites against the Colgate Raiders in the first round of this tournament, and they followed it up with a hard-fought win over the Penn State Nittany Lions. Dylan Disu was the hero in that game, as he had 28 points and 10 boards in the win. He also had some big buckets late.
Midwest Region No. 3 Seed Xavier Musketeers
It’s hard to find many teams in the country that are better offensively than the Musketeers. Xavier also happens to play at a very fast pace, which makes Sean Miller’s team a tough matchup for anyone. Xavier will just need to level up defensively in order to continue winning in the tournament. Miller doesn’t have a strong track record in March, but he is more comfortable with the Musketeers than he was with the Arizona Wildcats. Perhaps he’ll reach his first Final Four in his second stint with Xavier. The Musketeers played a beautiful game in an 84-73 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second round of this tournament. And the team is holding up without Zach Fremantle, who is out for the rest of the season.
Texas vs. Xavier matchup analysis
Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel were scorching hot from 3 against Pittsburgh on Sunday, as the two combined to shoot 7 for 11 from deep. When it's not just Souley Boum hitting shots for this Musketeers team, it's incredibly difficult to beat Xavier. Sean Miller's group moves the ball extremely well, and it seems like the Musketeers are always taking good shots. That's why this team is eighth in the nation in Bart Torvik's adjusted offensive efficiency rankings.
The reason we started with the 3-point shooting is that it could make a big difference in how this matchup will play out. Xavier is fourth in the nation in 3P% this season, while Texas is just 168th in that category. It's hard to win games when your opponent is constantly hitting the most valuable shot in the sport, so the Longhorns are going to need to really defend the perimeter at a high level here. Texas could have done that a little better against Penn State last game. The Nittany Lions were just 8 for 28 from three, but they missed a ton of open looks. The Longhorns can't afford to give those up against this Musketeers group.
Dylan Disu's play is also important heading into this one. Disu was a monster against Penn State with his ability to hit mid-range shots, and it'll be interesting to watch him go to work against Jack Nunge. Nunge is a tremendous defender for this Xavier team, so things might not come as easily for Disu. That will mean that Texas' trio of Tyrese Hunter, Marcus Carr and Sir'Jabari Rice will need to be better than it was against the Nittany Lions. The three combined to score just 29 points on 11-of-27 shooting. That won't cut it without Disu bailing the team out.
Fortunately for Texas, this Xavier team doesn't defend the 3-point line very well. Perhaps that will give the Longhorns guards a chance to get it going and come close to matching the Musketeers production from deep.
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