We have an absolutely massive Big East matchup to start the Wednesday slate as Xavier hits the road to battle it out against conference-leading Marquette. Xavier sits a half a game back from first place of the Big East conference standings, making this a must-win situation to tie it up against the Golden Eagles. They hindered their chances with an embarrassing loss to Butler in their last game out, now getting a chance to get back on track. Can they get the big win on the road? The best prediction for Xavier vs. Marquette is over 161.
Xavier Vs. Marquette Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Over 161
As I previewed in the last sentence, this is an over bet for me as we are in for an incredible display of offense from both sides of the court. Xavier currently ranks fifth in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom while Marquette clocks in at third. What makes this even more intriguing is that both offensive identities find success in different ways. While it will be interesting to see which style prevails in the end, all we need is points to be scored at a high rate which is exactly what both are equipped to do.
Starting with Xavier, they base a majority of their success on their ability to shoot the ball at an incredibly efficient rate. Xavier currently averages an astonishing 50% completion percentage from the field and 40.1% from the perimeter. While you would imagine the regression monster is looming, Xavier has shown no signs of slowing down. They specialize in shifting the defense with efficient passing, filling in the gaps for high quality open looks.
They sort of mimic the identity of Alabama’s offense, wanting to push the ball as fast as possible as soon as they gain possession. This keeps the defense reeling and unable to lock into their half court scheme, allowing Xavier to search for the openings and exploit with an efficient jump shot. This style of play can be less than ideal in stability but can also provide buckets in a flash which is exactly what we need in order to cover a large total.
As for Marquette, they play at a slower pace, yet still well above average by ranking 92nd in Adjusted Tempo. They differ from Xavier in that they run sets to get the highest quality look they can get near the rim. Sacrificing perimeter looks for higher quality two pointers, the Golden Eagles scoring is soul sucking for opposing defenses. Their elite facilitation makes it tough to defend all areas of the court, leaving an exposure in danger of being attacked by a cutting guard.
Xavier Vs. Marquette Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Musketeers as a +5.5 underdog on the road. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either end, keeping the number the same as the opener as of writing. While not entirely the same as key football numbers, +6 serves as a key basketball number but to a lesser extent. While the spread is a pass for me as this is in line with projections, I would not take Xavier at any number less than +6.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a blistering pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 160.5. Bettors are in agreement, backing the over up to as high as 161.5 as of writing in some shops. This comes as no surprise as this is a battle between two of the most efficient offenses in the nation. Not only does this matchup feature two of the best offenses in the nation, but they both also have reeling defenses which plays even more friendly towards our over ticket.
Xavier Vs. Marquette Key Matchups
Can Marquette exploit Xaviers defensive weakness at guarding open shooters?
Marquette shooting vs Xavier perimeter defense
You would think that having to defend the relentless perimeter attack in practice that the Musketeers would be better equipped to defend it this season, but that is sorely not the case. Infact, Xaviers defense has been weak as a whole unit, ranking 102nd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
A majority for their lack of efficiency is their inability to pressure open shooters into a lesser quality shot, leaving players wide open at an alarming rate. They shift poorly against efficient ball movement, making this a prime opportunity for a Marquette offensive explosion. Marquette is one of the most efficient passing units in basketball, having full control of the looks they want to create.
Take the over at no higher than 162 in what will be a thrilling display of offense in this massive Big East matchup.