Kennesaw State vs Xavier Odds & Prediction: Betting Value on Owls

Kennesaw State vs Xavier Odds & Prediction: Betting Value on Owls article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Souley Boum of Xavier and Demond Robinson of Kennesaw State

Kennesaw State vs Xavier Odds

Friday, March 17
12:40 p.m. ET
Kennesaw State Odds
-110o / -110u
Xavier Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

We have a fairly exciting matchup on paper between two very capable offenses when No. 3 seed Xavier takes on No. 14 seed Kennesaw State Friday afternoon.

Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 14 seed has pulled off a first-round upset in a little more than half of the years (19 of 36), with the most recent coming back in 2021 when Abilene Christian upset Texas.

After the No. 14 seeds flopped last season, can Kennesaw State become lucky No. 20?

Let's take a closer look under the hood of each team before getting into where the value may lie from a betting perspective.

Kennesaw State Owls

Kennesaw State didn't make the tournament last season. However, the Owls have experienced an impressive turnaround under head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, who has done one of the best program turnaround jobs in recent memory.

In his first season at the helm in 2019-20, the Owls finished with a paltry 1-28 record. They won five and 13 games the following two years before a meteoric rise to 26 victories this season, capped off by an ASUN conference championship.

Kennesaw has one of the most experienced rosters in the country, ranking second in Minutes Continuity entering the year, per KenPom. It has a number of upperclassmen who have been along for the wild ride with Abdur-Rahim over the past few seasons.

They like to play at a quicker tempo, with star guard Terrell Burden creating offense via dribble penetration and a bevy of shooters on the outside. Everybody in the rotation can shoot outside of 6-foot-8 big man Demond Robinson.

Defensively, they like to switch up the looks with some man, zone and press, which has led to a very high opponent turnover rate.

They definitely keep opponents on their toes, preventing them from getting too comfortable against the same looks.

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Xavier Musketeers

After winning the NIT last season, Xavier had high expectations with a veteran group that added head coach Sean Miller to the mix. The Musketeers certainly lived up to the hype, securing a No. 3 seed in the Big Dance.

UTEP transfer guard Souley Boum has fit in perfectly with this experienced group, especially on the offensive end. On the season, Boum is shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc and is near automatic at the free-throw line at 86.3%.

The Musketeers have a deadly offense that ranks ninth overall in Adjusted Efficiency. They share the ball extremely well and prefer to play with pace (39th in Adjusted Tempo).

Xavier did lose senior forward Zach Freemantle to a season-ending injury, but Indiana transfer Jerome Hunter has filled in quite nicely.

While I can't really find any faults with the Xavier offense, the defense does have a few holes, specifically on the perimeter, which explains its very low turnover and foul rates.

Kennesaw State vs Xavier Betting Pick

I like the underdog here — I believe Kennesaw State has a puncher's chance of pulling off the outright upset. This is a very experienced team with good guards and an abundance of 3-point shooting (37th in 3-point percentage this season).

That's an ideal profile for a first-round underdog in the NCAA tournament.

The Owls also showed they can compete with more talented teams earlier this season. They lost by 10 at Florida (when the Gators still had Colin Castleton) and were tied in Assembly Hall against Indiana with 10 minutes to go in the game before the Hoosiers pulled away late.

I don't think they'll be afraid of the stage and have been a fairly reliable team, ranking ninth in Consistency, per Haslametrics.

From a matchup standpoint, the Owls probably don't want to press Xavier, but they can utilize their zone here with some effectiveness, considering the Musketeers grade out poorly in that regard.

It will also be a welcome relief to not have to deal with Freemantle, who would have provided some major matchup issues.

Most importantly, I believe Kennesaw's guards can take advantage of a vulnerable perimeter Xavier defense.

Ultimately, you need to be able to score to keep up with Xavier's prolific offense — and the Owls can certainly do that.

For what it's worth, ASUN teams have gone 8-4 ATS (66.7%) as double-digit underdogs, covering by just under five points per game. Only teams from the MAC (7-1 ATS) have turned a bigger profit over that span.

The league is also 10-4 ATS overall over the past 10 years.

Pick: Kennesaw State +13 (Play to +11.5)

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