With Marquette inching closer to locking up the Big East regular season title, the attention turns to who will benefit from the two seed as there is currently a three-way tie for second. Xavier, Creighton, and Providence all sit at 12-5, looking to separate from each other to improve their seeding for the conference tournament. Seton Hall sits lower down the standings, currently sixth in the Big East. In what is a crucial matchup for Xavier, can they get the big win on the road?
Xavier Vs. Seton Hall Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Xavier -1.5
Even though the spread has already taken some immediate steam by jumping up half a point from the open, I will continue to bet this number as projections have it around -3. It’s been a bumpy road in their last four outings, going 1-3 with their most recent game being a one point loss to Villanova. Seton Hall will pose as one of their more difficult tests to crack when the Pirates are on defense, but Xavier’s elite ability to generate high quality looks should open up the cracks of their defense.
They run as one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, ranking 11th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. A brunt of their efficiency stems from their ability to generate open looks, knocking down those opportunities at a high rate. Xavier currently shoots 49.8% from the field and 39.4% from the perimeter. They are capable of keeping up this high level of shooting in either the halfcourt or fast break, possessing a Tempo ranking good for 26th in the nation.
Their ability to get the Pirates out in transition will be key as Seton Hall is one of the best half court lockdown defenses in the nation. By keeping them scrambling and constantly on the move, this will open up gaps in their defense for Xavier to exploit for an open look. This style of play mimics Alabama’s style of offense, yet the Musketeers complete at a higher rate. Even without Zach Freemantle, Xavier has no shortage of weapons who are capable of carrying the scoring mantle.
Without Mantle, we may see Xavier’s production rely more towards their guard play. Going smaller may seem less than ideal against Seton Hall’s length, but the benefits of their transitional play from up top will more than make up for it. Should they stretch out the floor, this will open up the interior for Xavier to get higher quality looks at the rim. Jack Nunge has served as a viable interior scoring option, averaging 14.6 points per game.
Xavier Vs. Seton Hall Odds
In what is a must win situation for Xavier to break away from the tie, oddsmakers have tempered their expectations of motivation by opening Xavier as a -1 favorite on the road. Bettors immediately hit the number, taking it up to -1.5 in nearly every sportsbook as of writing. This number comes as a bit of a surprise as multiple projections have Xaviers around -3, still giving the current number value should you lean towards Xavier.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 141. Bettors are leaning towards the under, taking it down to 140.5 in some shops as of writing. Seton Hall plays a critical role towards this number, playing vastly different on both ends of the court. While their defense has consistently ranked top-20 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, their offense has mightily struggled as one of the most anemic units in basketball.
Xavier Vs. Seton Hall Key Matchups
Can Xavier’s weak defense contain the Pirates offense?
Xavier defense vs Seton Hall shooting ability
It’s been a season to forget for the Seton Hall offense as they have continued to regress throughout the course of the season. They currently rank 172nd in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, generating little to no consistency and routinely going through scoring lulls.
Xavier has been weak on the defensive end, ranking 84th in AdjD. Interior defense has been a thorn in their side, routinely giving up looks at the mid-range. Lucky for the Musketeers, the Pirates will be incapable of taking advantage of that area of the court as consistent shooting has been non-existent for them.
With Xavier knowing they can give up looks at the perimeter, they can benefit from sagging off the line and throwing more bodies towards the rim. This will limit quality looks near the rim, forcing Seton Hall into scoring lulls once again.
Back Xavier at no higher than -2.5 in what is a must win situation in order for them to improve their seeding in the Big East tournament.