Providence at Xavier (6:30 p.m. ET on FS1)
Opening Line: Xavier -10
Offensive Efficiency: Providence #154, Xavier #9
Defensive Efficiency: Providence #142, Xavier #172
Rebound Rate: Providence #170, Xavier #12
Percent of Shots are 3s: Providence #283, Xavier #200
Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: Providence #248, Xavier #10
Pace: Providence #131, Xavier #58
On paper, this Providence vs Villanova game looks like a mismatch, but the Friars slayed Villanova 76-71 earlier this month and tripped up Xavier the first time these two played as well.
Xavier outdid Providence on the offensive glass 17-4, but the Friars went 20-of-22 at the line to help offset that. That coupled with being able to carve up a Xavier defense that tends to struggle from beyond the arc carried Providence to a huge victory. This was atypical as Xavier has been the significantly better free-throw shooting team this season.
The areas these teams excelled at the first time will likely be the keys for each to win this time around. If Xavier wins the battle on boards the way it did the first go around, the Musketeers will put itself in a very good position to win and cover.
Providence may not take as many as the 22 3-pointers that were hoisted in the first meeting, but the team has a tendency to get hot and not regress to the mean because it takes a much smaller percent of its shots from distance than most DI schools.
Providence was banged up for much of the non-conference portion of the season and is as healthy as it has been all year. Xavier has been relatively healthy all year aside from a few games toward the end of December. It plays a nine-man rotation with the team utilizing a rebound by committee approach to be one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
If Xavier can speed up the game and get transition baskets, it has its best chance to win and cover. Providence needs to do a better job of rebounding than in the first meeting and use its size in the backcourt to get Xavier off kilter on defense to cover and have a shot at an outright win.
Nevada at UNLV (11 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network)
Opening Line: Nevada -3
Offensive Efficiency: Nevada #11, UNLV #44
Defensive Efficiency: Nevada #96, UNLV #128
Rebound Rate: Nevada #146, UNLV #34
Percent of Shots are 3s: Nevada #92, UNLV #340
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Nevada #58, UNLV #207
Pace: Nevada #107, UNLV #17
Nevada has been one of the best teams on the West Coast this season, but has been bit by the injury bug of late. The team's only home loss this season came at the hands of UNLV, a game in which leading scorer Caleb Martin missed with an injury.
Martin is back in the fold for Nevada, but point guard Lindsey Drew has missed the past three games with a season-ending ACL injury. The Wolf Pack plays position-less basketball, which allows everyone on the floor to be a threat to pull up on a 3-pointer, but leaves this leaves the team vulnerable on the rebounding front.
UNLV's rebounding is one of its biggest strengths. The Runnin’ Rebels were able to reel in 13 more boards than Nevada to pull out an 86-78 win the first time.
Both teams do not go deep into their benches. Nevada is currently using a six-man rotation given the injury situation. UNLV goes either seven or eight players deep depending on the game, which can at times be a detriment given that the Rebels play at one of the quickest tempos in America.
Nevada has the potential to get a huge edge from beyond the 3-point arc as UNLV shoots 3s at one of the lowest rates in college basketball. Nevada, on the other hand, takes and hits a sizable number of triples, which can cut leads or extend its own advantages in a hurry.
For UNLV to offset this disadvantage, the Rebels need to not allow Nevada second chances. That is doable considering the size advantage of the Rebels. UNLV does not have as efficient of an offense as Nevada does, but is still good for a non-Power 5 school that rarely shoots 3s. With Nevada giving up a good sum of points, especially recently, UNLV has a chance to win and cover by exploiting that.