Xavier vs. St. John’s Predictions, Picks, NCAAB Odds (12/28/22)

The Big East hasn’t been the force many expected this season, with Villanova, Creighton, and Seton Hall all underperforming. That gives both Xavier and St. John’s a chance to win some games and build an NCAA Tournament case, but it also puts pressure on both teams considering there might not be as many high-quality wins available. Whoever comes out on top of this one between the Musketeers and Red Storm will be off to a great start.

Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Wednesday’s matchup in Queens.

Xavier vs. St. John’s Odds

Xavier enters as a slight 1.5-point road favorite, with the over/under set at 160.5 points,

Xavier is battle-tested and off to a 2-0 start in Big East play, so it’s not shocking to see the Musketeers favored on the road. St. John’s hasn’t been tested nearly as much, but the Red Storm have largely taken care of business against lesser competition. Are they ready for a Xavier team that looks like it can seriously compete in the Big East?

Xavier vs. St. John’s Prediction & Pick

Xavier hasn’t lost since putting Gonzaga on upset alert in November, and the Musketeers’ two other losses this season came against Duke and Indiana. Sean Miller’s team looks like one of the most talented in the Big East.

With that being said, giving up 89 points to Georgetown and narrowly surviving Seton Hall at home don’t give the impression this is a dominant unit just yet. Still, Xavier has a great chance to just outscore St. John’s here. The shooting gap is massive, and the Musketeers are flowing with options led by Souley Boum.

St. John’s doesn’t have a track record against teams as talented as Xavier this season, and a recent loss to Villanova exposed many issues that persist even when star center Joel Soriano is playing well. Xavier -1.5 seems like the better bet on the road.

Xavier vs. St. John’s Key Matchups

Sean Miller has this Xavier team playing much better basketball than Travis Steele did a year ago. The Musketeers pass the ball well, leading the nation with 21.2 assists per game, and they do a nice job of limiting turnovers. Xavier is fifth in the nation in three-point percentage at 40.9% and averages a terrific 83.8 points per game.

The frontcourt was expected to carry the load for this team with Zach Freemantle and Jack Nunge both ultra experienced, but this is actually a more balanced Xavier team than most expected. The emergence of Souley Boum is the biggest reason. The UTEP transfer is leading Xavier with 17.3 points per game and shooting a stunning 52.7% from three-point range. That’s not a sustainable rate, but Boum hasn’t shown much reason to believe he’s about to fall off a cliff.

Adam Kunkel, Colby Jones, and Nunge give the Musketeers some insurance if Boum doesn’t play up to his standards. This balanced offensive attack is what has made Xavier so successful to this point.

St. John’s does have the defensive advantage. KenPom ranks the Red Storm’s defense fourth in the Big East to this point, though not near the Seton Hall defense that gave Xavier a tougher time than usual in their last game. Xavier’s defense is nothing to write home about, so this game will be about keeping up offensively for St. John’s.

The Red Storm shoot just 30.6% from three-point range, which is a problem, but they do find other ways to score and average nearly 80 points per game. St. John’s also has the clear rebounding advantage with monster center Joel Soriano alongside transfer big man David Jones. Finding ways to contain Soriano will be a must for Xavier.

Threes count for more than twos, so the game ultimately comes down to whether Xavier is hitting its shots. The Musketeers’ schedule has been tougher than St. John’s, whose biggest wins have come against Syracuse, Nebraska, and Florida State. The performance by St. John’s against Villanova revealed how a lack of shooting can really hurt this team.

Dan is a lifelong sports fan and graduate of Boston University. He’s covered several sports on Instagram since he was 12 and now writes about everything from betting trends to breaking news for Lineups.

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