Tuesday’s NCAAB Betting Previews: Buffalo-Syracuse, Xavier-Missouri
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jim Boeheim, Tyus Battle
TGIT: An unknown acronym for “Thank Goodness It’s Tuesday.” The games heat up this time of the week amid non-conference play, and an in-state battle featuring Buffalo and Syracuse provides just that. Before their duel, Missouri and Xavier square off in a Big East-SEC affair.
Which side delivers more value? Let’s dissect the matchups.
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Xavier Musketeers at Missouri Tigers
- Spread: Missouri -1.5
- Over/under: 136
- Tip: 7 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPNU
The Musketeers (4-6-1 against the spread) enter this matchup with the 31st-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (111.6 points per 100 possessions) in the nation while the Tigers (3-5-1 ATS) own the 106th-best AdjO.
The biggest issue with Xavier comes at the other end of the court, though.
Travis Steele’s unit has yielded the 56th-highest 3-point percentage (37.6%) in college basketball, opening the door for the Tigers’ 39.0% shooting from the behind the arc. Led by their leading scorers Mark Smith (47.8%) and Jordan Geist (35.6%), look for the Tigers to control the pace via their perimeter-oriented offense and keep the Musketeers from running in transition as a result.
Even though the Musketeers boast a slight advantage in the paint, the Tigers are fairly consistent on the glass at both sides of the floor, ranking No. 92 and No. 101 in defensive and offensive rebounding rate, respectively. Missouri will need that physicality against an Xavier bunch grabbing 32.6% of its misses.
The 6-foot-10 Jeremiah Tilmon will not only represent a major factor in that department, but his isolation defense has also improved this season. Tilmon showcased that against UCF’s 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall, and Tilmon should stifle the 6-foot-9 Tyrique Jones — one of the Musketeers’ top post presences.
According to our Bet Labs data, the Tigers are 10-10-1 (50.0%) ATS when they’re favored by at least 1.5 points through Cuonzo Martin’s second campaign with the program. Expect their 11-day layoff to pay major dividends in a physical matchup.
THE PICK: Missouri -1.5
Buffalo Bulls at Syracuse Orange
- Spread: Syracuse -3.5
- Over/under: 144.5
- Tip: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN2
Don’t get me wrong, the undefeated Bulls (6-2-1 ATS) are one of the best mid-majors around. Nevertheless, their best win at West Virginia doesn’t look nearly as impressive as it did a month ago, with the Mountaineers struggling at 6-4.
On the flip side, this contest represents a crucial game for the Orange (4-6 ATS) after a 69-63 loss to Old Dominion in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The Monarchs’ size bothered Jim Boeheim’s crew in the final 20 minutes, but Buffalo doesn’t have as much length, ranking No. 192 in KenPom’s Effective Height metric.
The Bulls counter with 43.8% of their attempts via 3s despite shooting just 33.5% — good for No. 199 in Division I. Look for Syracuse’s 2-3 zone to fluster Buffalo’s offense, especially since the Orange are allowing the 74th-lowest 3-point percentage (31.0%) in DI. Tyus Battle’s sound defense should help slow down Buffalo’s do-it-all guard C.J. Massinburg (17.1 points per game), too.
Both programs thrive off turning over the opposition, yet it shouldn’t play much of a role. They’ve each amassed lower than a 16.7% turnover rate.
If the Orange stay intact defensively, though, they should be able to control the pace and attack the rim, owning the 17th-highest free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in the nation. Battle (18.5 points per game) represents one of the best at it thanks to his aggressive 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame. The Bulls had issues with fouls in their last contest against Southern Illinois, allowing 22 attempts at the line.
Syracuse is 6-6 (50.0%) ATS when laying between 3.5 and 10 points between this and last season, per Bet Labs. Boeheim’s squad will right the ship while showcasing its potential come March in the process.
THE PICK: Orange -3.5