Wednesday College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions: Providence vs. Xavier (Jan. 26)
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Nate Johnson (Xavier)
- Xavier hosts first-place Providence after losing to Marquette on the road over the weekend.
- The Friars have overachieved so far this season and have yet to play Villanova, Xaiver or Creighton so far this season.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down why the Musketeers are the play in this Big East duel.
Providence vs. Xavier Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Xavier entered the 2021-22 college basketball season as the closest expected challenger to Villanova — along with Seton Hall and Connecticut — at the top of the Big East standings.
An 11-1 start had the Musketeers on that trajectory, but they have now fallen to 4-3 in conference play heading into a critical tilt with Providence on Wednesday.
The Friars have overachieved expectations considerably, going from a projected middle-of-the-pack Big East team to one currently in first place (6-1) in mid-January.
You might look at the line for this game and be surprised to see that Xavier is a multiple-possession favorite. But this is a classic buy-low spot on the Musketeers and sell-high spot on the Friars.
Xavier’s interior defense and excellent home form in an all-in spot makes the Musketeers an attractive favorite, at least up to a certain buy point before they become too expensive.
It’s never good for a program to have a COVID-19 pause, but you could make an argument that Providence got its at the right time.
The Friars had multiple games canceled, but were able to come off of the pause with consecutive outings at home against Georgetown and Butler, two of the worst teams in the Big East.
Providence won both games relatively comfortably in the end, but both were within four points until a late Friars run put their opponents away.
The advanced metrics have not been a fan of the Friars in part because of games like those two, where they’ve struggled to get margin and cover projected spreads as a favorite.
Now, that doesn’t matter that much in this spot where the Friars are underdogs, but let’s poke some holes in the Providence resume in Big East play.
A four-point road win at UConn is impressive, but Providence’s offense really struggled to consistently score and the defense was fortunate to avoid Adama Sanogo, who was out injured.
Providence then played Seton Hall at home without Tyrese Samuel and Ike Obiagu. The Pirates have looked less and less impressive with each passing game since then.
The Friars got steamrolled at Marquette and haven’t played Villanova, Xavier or Creighton yet.
The tougher games are coming and the inflated record of the Friars is deflating this line lower than it should be. The Friars sit at 15-2, but have a ShotQuality projected record of 10-7. They are also 5-0 in close games this season — second best in the entire country.
This is a textbook get-right spot at home for the Musketeers after they were completely shut down in the final 10 minutes against Marquette on Sunday. Xavier scored just eight points in that timespan and the Golden Eagles pulled away late for an 11-point home victory.
Now, they return home to the Cintas Center, where the Musketeers have been quite good this season. Xavier beat Ohio State, Marquette, Creighton and Cincinnati by 20 on its home floor this season, and all of those were wire-to-wire victories.
The only loss at home came against Villanova in a game that Xavier was ice cold from the perimeter and won the ShotQuality metrics comfortably.
Xavier ranks just 172nd in 3-point shooting percentage this season, but given the quality of looks generated, especially off the dribble, you’d expect that to be somewhere around the top 100.
Paul Scruggs was a career 36% 3-point shooter entering this season, and he’s shooting just 31% from deep this year. The Musketeers should be able to space out a sturdy Providence interior defense with Nate Johnson (41% from 3) and Adam Kunkel (39% from 3).
Most of Providence’s over-performance in the ShotQuality metrics have come in the defensive 3-point shooting variety. Providence ranks outside the top 100 in 3-point defense on off-the-dribble 3-pointers and outside the top 200 in 3-point defense against spot-up shooters.
Xavier won’t be able to live in the mid-range against a great Providence defense, but it should get decent looks at the rim and even better chances from the perimeter.
Providence vs. Xavier Betting Pick
The market hasn’t showed a lot of respect to Providence most of the season, and the Friars have impressed and won a lot of games this year with their experienced roster.
But this is a difficult matchup for the Friars because of their reliance on getting to the free-throw line for points.
It’s unlikely they’ll get a friendly whistle on the road at Xavier, and it’s even less likely they’ll get free points at the line when Xavier has the fourth-lowest foul rate in the entire country.
The Friars rank in the top-15 offensively in getting fouled and getting a large share of their points from the line. However, if they don’t get the calls and this game is physical, Xavier’s a better version of Providence across the board.
There will be spots to hop on Providence in the future, but this is perfect opportunity to fade the Friars, who have defensive perimeter regression coming, close game regression coming and aren’t nearly as good as their record indicates.
Providence hasn’t looked sharp off its COVID pause and has not been competitive with a full strength upper-echelon Big East foe all year.
I expect Xavier to win this going away, but wouldn’t lay more than the opener at eight.
Pick: Xavier -8 or better
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