Texas vs Xavier Odds, Prediction, Picks | Our Top Sweet 16 Bet
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images. Pictured: Xavier Musketeer Colby Jones.
Texas vs Xavier Updated Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The final spot in the Elite 8 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament will be decided on Friday night in Kansas City as Texas battles Xavier.
The Longhorns just won the Big 12 Conference Tournament in this arena (T-Mobile Center) less than two weeks ago, beating Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas en route to the league title under interim head coach Rodney Terry.
The Longhorns overcame a late charge from Penn State in the second round and are now very live to make the Final Four in Houston next weekend.
Next up for them is Xavier, which features an elite offense. The Musketeers’ defensive issues nearly knocked them out against No. 14 seed Kennesaw State in the Round of 64, though.
The Musketeers survived that matchup to advance to the second round, where their offense destroyed Pittsburgh for 1.09 PPP and 84 points in a routine win.
Of the four matchups scheduled for Friday, this is the only one with a line under five points.
Both offenses have some advantages here. Xavier’s ability to push the pace will help it score plenty against the Longhorns defense, even if its defense also struggles to get stops.
Texas has played at a considerably faster pace under Terry than it did under Chris Beard in the early portion of the season.
The Longhorns are more than comfortable running in transition offensively and should get plenty of good first-shot looks against Xavier’s mediocre transition defense.
Xavier will want this game to be as up-tempo as possible, even though it’s a tournament game.
The biggest advantage for Texas is the ability of its guards to penetrate into the lane. If you watched Kennesaw vs. Xavier, you saw how vulnerable Xavier’s defense is to the dribble drive from athletic guards.
This weakness was on display for Xavier at times in the Big East — but even the Big East didn’t have the same level of perimeter athleticism that the Big 12 had this season.
As a result, Texas’ guards Sir’Jabari Rice, Tyrese Hunter and Marcus Carr should be able to get to any spot on the floor that they choose and create offense from there.
My colleague, Nick Giffen, bet Rice over 1.5 assists at +115, for example.
Xavier’s backcourt of Boum, Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel will need to outscore Texas to stay in this game. It’s hard to see the Musketeers staying in this game otherwise.
Xavier had two good tournament offensive showings despite not getting much from transfer point guard Souley Boum in either game.
Boum shot 5-of-13 from the field in Round 1 and followed it up with a 3-for-13 showing in the win against Pittsburgh.
In a tournament where a lot of teams have struggled to adjust to the new ball and the tight rims, Xavier has posted more than 1.00 PPP in both games without Boum being efficient at all.
KenPom is projecting 71 possessions in this game, and there are some offensive advantages for the Musketeers in this matchup.
Xavier runs a ton of pick-and-roll ball screen actions and Jack Nunge is excellent as a roll man in that role. The Longhorns rank in the 17th percentile nationally at guarding the PnR roll man, per Synergy.
Texas forward Dylan Disu isn’t quite as good defending in space as opposed to being a pure rim protector.
Xavier’s offense is in the 96th percentile in PnR roll man shots, per Synergy. Nunge can do a lot more than just rim run, too. His ability to step out and space the floor can stretch Texas defensively.
The Longhorns’ defense isn’t as good at the rim as you’d think either. They rank in the 58th percentile nationally, which is above average but far from elite.
While the Musketeers have some real defensive vulnerabilities against Texas’ guards, the offense should score and stay in this game.
Texas vs Xavier Betting Pick
Xavier’s lack of reliance on the 3-point shot has helped the offense in this tournament because the perimeter shooting is down across the board due to the changed balls and tighter rims.
Perimeter shooting has less of an influence on the Xavier offense. Because of that, the Musketeers have been efficient despite no one besides Kunkel knocking down open shots in the first two rounds.
Sean Miller’s offense has so many screen actions and so many playmakers on the ball that it’s tough for a defense to slow them, even a defense as good as Texas.
The pace will drive this total Over and Xavier’s efficiency will keep it in this. We’ve seen Unders all tournament thus far, but the market has overcorrected here.
I’ll bet the Xavier team total over 72.5 at -115 or better. The Musketeers should stay in this game and score by spacing Texas out offensively. Whether or not the Musketeers can win comes down to stopping the dribble drives of the Texas guards.
Pick: Xavier TT Over 72.5 Points (-115 or Better)
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