Vanderbilt vs. Xavier NIT Odds & Picks: Will Commodores Advance to Semifinals at MSG?
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- Vanderbilt travels to take on Xavier in an NIT quarterfinal matchup.
- The Commodores will have Scotty Pippen Jr. to rely on, but the Musketeers may be without Paul Scruggs.
- Keg breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
Vanderbilt vs. Xavier Odds
-114o / -106u
-114o / -106u
Vanderbilt will play its first away game of the NIT on Tuesday, as it travels to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers.
The Commodores took care of crosstown rival Belmont in the first round, but Dayton gave Vandy all it could handle in its last game. It took overtime, but Jerry Stackhouse and his squad were able to hold off the Flyers, 70-68.
Xavier, meanwhile, won the battle of interim head coaches on Sunday, as Jonas Hayes led the Musketeers past Al Pinkins and Gators. They did it in dominating fashion, winning 72-56. However, in the second half against Florida, Paul Scruggs went down with a knee injury and did not return.
Scruggs is not only the second-leading scorer for the Musketeers, but a senior leader and someone who has been a floor general all season. That has been even more critical since the departure of Travis Steele.
On Monday, Hayes had no update on Scruggs and his availability for Tuesday night, so for now, he’s questionable. He did not return to the game vs. Florida due to the Musketeers’ sizable lead, but Scruggs was seen on crutches.
These teams didn’t officially play each other this season, but the worst kept secret in all of college basketball was their “secret” scrimmage in Nashville on Oct. 30.
Vanderbilt beat Xavier, 77-65. Liam Robbins wasn’t available for Vandy, but Scotty Pippen Jr. led all scorers with 27 points. Of course, both teams are very different after an entire college basketball season, and there are currently injuries to consider.
The status of Scruggs may be in question, but one thing there’s no doubt about is Vanderbilt’s struggles on the road. Vandy won its first two games of the NIT at home in front of a rowdy student section.
Not to mention Vanderbilt is just 2-6 in its last eight road games, and played a tough overtime matchup on Sunday against Dayton, while Xavier cruised past Florida.
Can Vanderbilt get past its road woes and fatigue against the Musketeers?
This Vanderbilt team has been competitive all year, but it struggled with the challenge of an SEC schedule.
The Commodores seemed to leave their struggles in the regular season, winning three games in three days before falling to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament. And that success has continued in the NIT, drawing one of the more difficult first-round matchups in Belmont and then No. 1 seed Dayton.
The success of Vanderbilt in the postseason has primarily been due to the offensive output of their two highest scorers in Pippen and Jordan Wright. They’ve both scored 20 points or more in two of their last four games.
Vanderbilt has improved since the regular season on the defensive end, but it will need to be even better here on the road if it wants to keep the Musketeers at bay.
Scruggs is questionable for the game, but his absence may not be as detrimental to Xavier as some people believe it to be. Five players average between 10 and 14 points for the Musketeers.
Sure, Scruggs has been a leader on the team, but there are others who can have the same impact.
Take Jack Nunge for example. The big man has been nearly unstoppable in the postseason. He may have only scored 12 points in the last two contests, but the Xavier offense is balanced among five players.
Nunge has shot 70% or better in every postseason game so far. Continuing that success could lead Xavier to an NIT title.
Vanderbilt vs. Xavier Betting Pick
These teams have been on a different level since postseason play began, but they’re still very evenly matched on both ends of the court.
Over the last three games, Vandy has averaged 74.3 points while opponents have put up 72. At the same time, Xavier averages 75.1 and allows opponents to score 71.
Scruggs’ potential absence will be a massive adjustment for Xavier, but that isn’t its only issue. Over the last three games, the Musketeers are shooting just 62.2% from the free throw line. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is hitting 75.5% of their free throws.
Xavier is also shooting just 23% from deep while Vanderbilt has improved even more on its impressive regular season percentage (up to 34.9% from 34%).
The Commodores are 8-1-1 in their last 10 ATS while Xavier is just 3-7. Fatigue may set in for the Commodores late after their overtime game with Dayton, and being away from home could pose an issue.
But in a game to decide who goes to the NIT semifinals — along with the questionability of Scruggs — I can’t see myself leaving the points on the table here with Vanderbilt.
I was able to get Vanderbilt at +3.5 early this morning, but I would back the Commodores down to a pick’em in this game. Take the points if they are there, but that could change depending on the status of Scruggs.
Pick: Vanderbilt PK or better
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