College Basketball Odds & Picks for Seton Hall vs. Xavier: Musketeers to Get Revenge on Pirates?

College Basketball Odds & Picks for Seton Hall vs. Xavier: Musketeers to Get Revenge on Pirates? article feature image

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Xavier Musketeers guard Paul Scruggs (1) and Xavier Musketeers forward Jack Nunge (24)

  • Seton Hall travels to Ohio to take on the Musketeers of Xavier in a Big East clash.
  • The Pirates won the first meeting between the two teams in New Jersey.
  • Here's why Tanner McGrath is backing the Pirates.

Seton Hall vs. Xavier Odds

Saturday, Feb. 26
3:30 p.m. ET
Seton Hall Odds
-110o / -110u
Xavier Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

We still have a few more games in Big East play, but Seton Hall and Xavier are playing for nothing more than conference tournament seeding.

Regardless, Xavier would probably like revenge. The Musketeers almost beat Seton Hall in Newark a few weeks ago, losing by two in a tough-fought game. And I bet this team is steaming after the triple-overtime loss to Providence.

Seton Hall is hot off two home wins against DePaul and Butler — otherwise known as the Big East's bottom-feeders. This could be a good sell-high spot for the Pirates.

But can we really trust Xavier?

Seton Hall Pirates

Seton Hall is big and imposing. The Pirates are the sixth-tallest team in the nation by average height and are anchored by 7-foot-2 Ike Obiagu.

As a result, the Pirates are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the Big East, ranking top 40 nationally in offensive rebounding rate. They're much weaker on the defensive boards, but they grade out pretty well overall.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

Seton Hall has also been tough defensively. The Pirates are top 20 nationally in eFG% allowed and are third in the Big East in two-point percentage allowed. But the Pirates play in a tough defensive conference, and therefore they are just sixth in the Big East in defensive efficiency.

The offense is pitiful. There's no ball movement, no shooting and the Pirates are now 285th in eFG%. The Pirates are particularly bad running the pick-and-roll, ranking 332nd in PnR PPP (.764).

But Seton Hall is hurt. The injury report currently includes five players who are "out indefinitely," the most important of those being Bryce Aiken.

The Harvard transfer was a revelation for Seton Hall's second unit before his injury. The point guard is an electric scorer and above-average shooter with a flair for the dramatic.

Bryce. Aiken. That's the tweet.

— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) January 15, 2022

Overall, Aiken was averaging 14.5 points and 2.7 assists per game with a 120.2 ORtg.

Until he returns, I'm low on the Pirates' prospects in March — even if they're still projected as an eight-seed in the big dance.

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Xavier Musketeers

I think Xavier is a good basketball team. Travis Steele has all the parts in place, but the puzzle just isn't fitting together.

Xavier has now dropped five of its last six games, falling to 7-9 in Big East play. That includes a pathetic home loss to DePaul.

The Musketeers are missing Nate Johnson, who has been one of the more important contributors — particularly on the offensive end. He was cooking in non-conference play, scoring at least 12 points in eight of his first 12 games. They are now 0-3 without him in the fold.

But Xavier still has the inside-out duo of Paul Scruggs and Jack Nunge. Given how massive Xavier is at every position, the Musketeers should be impossible to score on in the paint and they should be tenacious on the offensive boards.

Instead, Xavier is 10th in two-point defense in the Big East and ninth in offensive rebounding rate. The Musketeers do two things well: They lead the Big East in offensive turnover rate (thanks, Paul Scruggs) and also pace the conference in defensive rebounding rate.

Nunge is clearly the most important player. He has the highest ORtg of any player on the team at 123.6 and has a true-shooting north of 62%. He also ranks top 100 among all Division I players in offensive rebounding rate, defensive rebounding rate, turnover rate and block rate.

Nunge's percentile rankings in major statistical categories. Image credit: CBB Analytics

Xavier just needs to hold on. The Musketeers are still projected as an eight-seed in the tournament, but they could get leapfrogged quick with a few more bad losses.

Seton Hall vs. Xavier Betting Pick

This game is going to be played entirely inside the arc. Both teams are sub-220 in three-point rate and top 120 in opponent three-point rate.

I believe this game might devolve into an Ike Obaigu vs. Jack Nunge battle. Both are so important to what their respective teams do on both ends of the floor.

However, I'm giving the advantage to Xavier in this game.

Seton Hall needs to pick up offensive rebounds, but Nunge and Xavier are the best defensive rebounding team in the Big East. It's going to stifle the Pirates offense, which has struggled with ball movement and consistent scoring options.

Meanwhile, Scruggs should totally outplay the short-handed Seton Hall backcourt. Not only does he have the advantage in every statistical category, but he's bigger and currently playing hot — he put up 19 points in his last game.

Throw in the revenge factor and that the Xavier stock is particularly low, and I'm ready to back the Musketeers at -4 or better.

Pick: Xavier -4 or Better

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