NCAA March Madness: Xavier Musketeers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers betting preview, odds and predictions
In a 3 vs. 11 matchup in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, the Xavier Musketeers face the Pittsburgh Panthers for a spot in the Sweet 16. 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 Xavier vs. Pittsburgh
When: Sunday, 12:10 p.m. ET
Where: Greensboro, North Carolina
Odds for Xavier vs. Pittsburgh
Spread: Xavier -5
(Odds accurate as of Friday, March 17th at 6:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
Midwest Region No. 3 Seed Xavier Musketeers
It’s hard to find many teams in the country that are better offensively than the Musketeers, who have a potent scorer in Souley Boum. Xavier also happens to play at a very fast pace, which makes Sean Miller’s team a tough matchup for anyone. Colby Jones and Jack Nunge are two other guys that consistently score for this Musketeers group, and the reality is that not many teams have this many reliable offensive players. Xavier will just need to level up defensively in order to make a deep run 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.
Midwest Region No. 11 Seed Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh is a hard team to rule out because of how efficient the group is offensively. The Panthers have two guys that can be really tough to guard, with Jamarius Burton and Blake Hinson both coming off fantastic regular seasons. Greg Elliott and Nelly Cummings are also players that can heat up and swing games. You might remember Cummings scoring 20 points against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of last year’s tournament, when he was with the Colgate Raiders. However, Pittsburgh is very beatable on the other end of the floor, and the team’s focus has been up and down all year. That could end up undoing the Panthers, who have already earned wins over Mississippi State and Iowa State in the NCAA tournament.
Xavier vs. Pittsburgh matchup analysis
On paper, this looks like a rough matchup for Pittsburgh. The Panthers have been able to win games because of their ability to put the ball in the hoop. Pittsburgh is 27th in the nation when it comes to adjusted offensive efficiency, but the team is just 106th when it comes to defense. However, Xavier is ninth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, and the Musketeers are stronger defensively — they're 72nd in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency.
With Xavier being better on both ends of the floor, it's going to take a special performance from somebody on Pittsburgh to stop the Musketeers from advancing. But Sean Miller's team battled through some real adversity in the first round, and the group could get stronger after having done so. Xavier genuinely looked like it was going to lose to Kennesaw State for a majority of the game, but good teams find ways to win ugly games. And that's exactly what the Musketeers did. They also did so despite having dealt with an on-court argument between teammates Souley Boum and Adam Kunkel.
After experiencing some difficult circumstances in their last game — and the loss of Zach Freemantle two weeks ago — getting by a team that only plays one end of the floor should seem like a breeze for Xavier. The team will just need guys like Jack Nunge and Jerome Hunter to continue to play well in Freemantle's absence. They are more important to this team than ever now.
if you're not comfortable playing a side in this game, you can do a lot worse than taking the over. This total was set extremely high for a reason, as these teams can both score with ease. In fact, Xavier is fourth in the nation in 3P% this season, so the Musketeers can put up points in a hurry. Xavier scored 72 against Kennesaw State, but the team was 2 for 12 from deep.
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