Cincinnati vs. Xavier College Basketball Odds, Picks, Preview: How to Bet Saturday’s Crosstown Shootout (December 11)

Cincinnati vs. Xavier College Basketball Odds, Picks, Preview: How to Bet Saturday’s Crosstown Shootout (December 11) article feature image

Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Saunders Jr.

  • The Crosstown Shootout rivalry resumes on Saturday when the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the Xavier Musketeers.
  • This game is one of the best rivalries in college basketball and should only be amped up in 2021.
  • Check out Jim Root's full betting guide for the game below, including updated odds and a pick.

Cincinnati vs. Xavier Odds

Saturday, Dec. 11
8:30 p.m. ET
Cincinnati Odds
-105o / -115u
Xavier Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

You can have UNC/Duke. Likewise, Kentucky/Louisville is all yours. In my own humble opinion, the Crosstown Shootout in the Queen City is the best rivalry in college hoops.

Both sides have inferiority complexes, amplifying the bad blood. You cannot mention one school on Twitter without fans of the other rushing into your replies.

Some knock the status because the teams are not legitimate national powers. Sorry — I think that makes it mean more for these two. The loser does not have the comfort of being an annual Final Four contender to fall back on. Instead, it’s just a full year of disparaging comments from coworkers or even family members.

Put it this way. Cincinnati fired John Brannen this offseason for, in part, “jeopardizing the well-being of his players.” As awful as that is, I guarantee Bearcat fans were far more perturbed by his 0-2 record against Xavier.

Partially due to Brannen’s futility, Xavier has owned the Bearcats of late, winning seven of the last 10 meetings (both straight up and ATS). It gets even worse if you narrow this to games at Xavier — the Musketeers have won nine of the last 10 and covered five straight at home.

Cincinnati Bearcats

With Brannen on the unemployment line, Wes Miller has infused life back into the Cincinnati basketball program. He shrewdly found players in the transfer portal who matched his tough, defensive identity, including three players who followed him from UNC Greensboro.

A deep and physical frontcourt allows Miller to throw waves of bodies at foes, and Viktor Lahkin has emerged into a legitimate offensive weapon. Abdul Ado and Hayden Koval form a devastating shot-blocking platoon inside, helping the Bearcats rank fifth nationally in 2P% allowed.

David DeJulius and Mike Saunders have successfully stepped into high-usage roles, giving the offense just enough juice. Jeremiah Davenport, a lethal stretch forward, missed the Bearcats’ last game, but he should be back for this one after giving his ankle time to heal.

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Xavier Musketeers

Let’s start here: Xavier’s frontcourt is huge and talented.

In his third game back from a broken foot, Zach Freemantle looked like himself, racking up 24 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in 20 minutes against Ball State.

Dieonte Miles and Jack Nunge have controlled the rim thus far, and Nunge has doubled as one of the country’s best interior finishers.

The wing corps has been deadly, as well. Combined, Nate Johnson, Colby Jones, and Adam Kunkel are a sizzling 50-of-118 from deep (42.4%), and Jones provides excellent playmaking and defense, as well. They have punished defenses that focus too much on the talented frontcourt.

Xavier’s big offensive flaw is an inability to take care of the ball — a surprise for a team with a fifth-year point guard. Paul Scruggs has been sloppy this year, and his teammates have followed that lead.

Cincinnati will mix in some zone pressure, so if the Musketeers get too casual, the Bearcats will gladly take advantage.

Cincinnati vs. Xavier Betting Pick

This spread tells us that oddsmakers view these teams as fairly far apart on a neutral court. The Cintas Center has earned four-ish points of home-court value, even with zero travel, but that still says Xavier is 4.5 points better.

That’s where I disagree.

Cincinnati remains undervalued in most analytical rankings due to flawed preseason priors. Last year was a disaster for the Bearcats as Brannen took a flamethrower to the program, and that is still permeating through the Bearcats’ evaluations.

However, Miller has engineered a quick turnaround to competence, evidenced by a huge win over Illinois in Kansas City. Xavier is deep and talented, but the Musketeers have been up-and-down under Steele, and this Cincinnati team can match it athletically.

Look, the Cintas Center scares me. The Musketeers can bring an avalanche down on opponents when they get hot, and the crowd gets amped.

But this number is just too high, and I do think this new version of the Bearcats has a fighting chance to scrape out a season-defining road win.

Pick: Cincinnati +8.5 (Play to +7)

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