College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for Morehead State vs. Xavier (Wednesday, Dec. 15)

College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for Morehead State vs. Xavier (Wednesday, Dec. 15) article feature image

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  • No. 22 Xavier puts its five-game win streak on the line against the OVC's Morehead State.
  • The Eagles have played one ranked team this season -- Auburn -- and lost by 23.
  • D.J. James previews the matchup and offers up his top selection.

Morehead State vs. Xavier Odds

Wednesday, Dec. 15
8:30 p.m. ET
Morehead State Odds
-120o / +100u
Xavier Odds
-120o / +100u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Xavier Musketeers have had an impressive beginning to their 2021-2022 campaign. They have a loss to Iowa State, but have signature wins over Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State and Cincinnati.

This team differs much from the Xavier teams of the past, as the Musketeers push the pace much more quickly. They rank 70th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom, after not eclipsing the top-100 fastest teams since 2018.

They will face Morehead State, an Ohio Valley team flying under the radar, in this one. Although the Eagles have not yet beaten any noteworthy teams, they will contend in the OVC Tournament come March.

They are the antithesis of Xavier. They play at a sluggish pace and have typically dictated the pace of games they have been involved in.

This is one reason to avoid the total.

Given Xavier’s 8-2 record against the spread, the Musketeers are likely to cover the number, even if the Eagles slow down the game.

Morehead State Eagles

Morehead State is a decent mid-major program. However, the Eagles have not reached the status of other teams in their conference, like Murray State and Belmont, who tend to snag the yearly OVC NCAA Tournament bid.

They could potentially make a run for the conference crown. But seeing how they have no high-profile victories yet this season, it is hard to see a scenario where they defeat a Big East team on the road.

One hindrance to their success has been their ability to keep control of the basketball. They have turned it over on an average of 23.5% of their offensive possessions. This ranks 334th in the NCAA.

Even if Xavier does not force turnovers often, it does have four players averaging at least one steal per game, which could cause some havoc for the Eagles.

Morehead State can remain within reach in this game if it knocks down its outside shots. The Eagles have a team 3-point percentage of 35.6%, which is mainly driven by Jake Wolfe, Jaylen Sebree, Tray Hollowell and Skyelar Potter.

All of these players are shooting above 37% from long range.

This is a tall task for the Xavier defense, but the unit limits 3s on defense to about 30%, so this should not be too significant of an issue.

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Xavier Musketeers

Xavier’s leg up on Morehead State comes on the offensive side of the ball, in particular. The Musketeers may make only 33.9% of their 3s, but the Eagles allow 36.8% of long range shots to fall (292nd in college basketball).

About 41.3% of the Musketeers' shots will be 3-pointers, so the Eagles will have their hands full.

Xavier also crashes the glass extremely well on both sides of the court. Johni Broome and Potter are two of the only rebounding threats for Morehead State.

Where the edge comes into play is how well Xavier rebounds from every position. They have seven players averaging at least three boards each game, while the Eagles have four.

Essentially, Xavier can haul in rebounds from every position, which should provide them a leg up on the Eagles, especially if any bigs (like Broome or Sebree) get into foul trouble.

The Musketeers do have their own issues with turning over the ball, but Morehead State does not take advantage in situations like that. The Eagles only force turnovers on 16.7% of their opponent's possessions, so this should not be cause for concern amongst Xavier backers.

Morehead State vs. Xavier Betting Pick

Xavier will force Morehead State to play at a much faster pace than it is used to, and this will allow plenty of the Musketeers' 3s to fall.

If Xavier’s far more elite defense can take advantage of Morehead State’s turnover issues, the Musketeers could seal the Eagles’ fate early on in this game.

The rebounding edge for Xavier is the cherry on top of a plethora of advantages.

Back the Musketeers at home.

Pick: Xavier -15.5 (Play to -17.5)

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC