Ohio State vs. Xavier Odds & Picks: Will Buckeyes Come Up With Road College Basketball Win?
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Ohio State vs. Xavier Odds
|Ohio State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Thursday night will be another in-state challenge for the Buckeyes as they head down to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers.
Ohio State enters this game with a 3-0 record, with all wins coming against mid-major opponents. The Musketeers also have yet to lose a game, with wins against Niagara and Kent State to start the season.
Thursday night in the Cintas Center will be Ohio State’s first road game of the season. I think this will play a factor for the Buckeyes, given their shaky start to the season before finally covering the spread for the first time this year against Bowling Green on Monday.
The Buckeyes aren’t alone in their questionable start to the season though. Xavier has had struggles of its own.
In their first game as a 22-point favorite over Niagara, the Musketeers maintained the lead essentially the entire game but could not pull away, winning by only three.
Issues continued against Kent State as they didn’t take their first lead until five minutes into the second half. They were able to pull away and cover the spread, though.
There aren’t many teams left that have yet to lose a game, and that number will be even lower after Thursday night.
Unbeaten teams remaining: 97 (Sorry, Boston College).
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) November 18, 2021
Both teams will be up against their toughest challenge so far this season. But after both have struggled against inferior opponents, can Ohio State’s offense prevail on the road against a top-50 defense?
I expected the Buckeyes to shake off the last of their offseason rust on Monday against Bowling Green, and that’s precisely what they did. The Buckeyes led Bowling Green in every measurable stat except blocks, where the Falcons led 4-2.
E.J. Liddell has picked up where he left off last year as an essential part of this team. He leads the team, averaging 22 points per game. While it’s still a small sample size, the closest player to him averages just 12.3 per game.
He’s also top three on the team in minutes, rebounds, assist, FG% and blocks. Not enough can be said about how significant Liddell is to this Buckeyes team.
But we all expected Liddell to be a crucial part of this team coming into the year.
The surprise has been freshman Meechie Johnson Jr., who struggled in his first-career start against Akron. But so did the rest of the team.
In the past two games, Johnson has come off the bench and has made a massive impact in both games. Against the Falcons on Monday, he led the team in minutes and tied for the team lead in points. I expect him to be a significant factor against Xavier and for the rest of the season.
The Buckeyes are currently ranked 14th by KenPom. They are also ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 40th in defensive efficiency.
Again it’s still relatively early so take rankings and stats with a grain of salt. For example, Xavier ranks 43rd in defensive efficiency. The closest team to them that the Buckeyes have seen is Akron, which ranks 146th.
Last season was odd for Xavier. The Musketeers never seemed to find their rhythm due to multiple COVID-19 delays throughout the year.
After a strong start, they finished the year losing six of their final eight games. They also played a Big East low 13 conference games due in large part to COVID cancellations.
The 2021-22 season feels like a second chance for Xavier. Thanks to the NCAA’s free year of eligibility, players who otherwise would be gone — like Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson — are back. In total, Xavier returned 81.1% of its minutes played last season, the third-most in Division I.
There have been some surprises early in the season for Xavier. The Musketeers are 2-0, but both wins were a lot more difficult than most expected.
It’s not all bad news, though. Scruggs seems to have somehow gotten better, as he’s leading the team in points, assists and steals. Scruggs and Colby Jones, who made the Big East All-Freshman Team last year, average a combined 37.5 points per game, nearly half of the Xavier offense.
One thing that remains the same for the Musketeers is their elite defense, They are currently ranked 43rd by KenPom in defensive efficiency.
However, they have struggled offensively. Per KenPom, the Musketeers have an effective FG% of just 44%, while posting a turnover percentage of 21.3%.
Ohio State vs. Xavier Betting Pick
The Gavitt Tipoff Games has given us some surprising upsets so far, but I don’t think that will be the case here. Xavier is 2-1 in the event, while the Buckeyes have never lost, posting a 3-0 record, which I expect to move to 4-0 on Friday night.
Ohio State is playing slightly better than Xavier on defense and is miles ahead on offense. While Xavier has played the tougher competition to start the season, I think the Buckeyes’ struggles early were due more in part to rust from the offseason.
Pick: Ohio State -1 (-110)
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