Best Underdog ATS Play: Xavier Plus Points vs. Seminoles

Xavier Muskateers

Willie Bee

Friday, March 17, 2017 7:07 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 17, 2017 7:07 PM UTC

In search of just its fifth Sweet 16 appearance in school history, Florida State is favored on the NCAA basketball odds to get there with a win Saturday against upset-minded Xavier.

Season: 51-46-4 (+0.50, 2 plays pending)

It's not as if double-digit seeds fill up the Sweet 16 round of March Madness brackets, but it happens more frequently that some people --cough*Jay Bilas*cough -- think. In fact, it's rarer that at least one No. 10+ seed fails to make it to regional sites, the last time that happening 10 years ago.

Two double-digit seeds made it to the Sweet 16 a year ago, No. 10 Gonzaga and No. 11 Syracuse in Midwest Region, the Bulldogs and Orange pairing up with the latter winning the matchup en route to a surprising Final Four appearance. The first double-digit with a chance to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 this time around is Xavier, the No. 11 Musketeers meeting No. 3 Florida State in a 6:10 PM (ET) tip on TNT. As some of you may recall with my Round of 16 picks earlier this week, my confidence was lowest on Florida State advancing to the West Regional next weekend in San Jose. After seeing how the Seminoles and Musketeers performed in opening wins Thursday, I sorta' wish I'd gone with Xavier straight-up over FSU.

So, I'll be more than happy to take the X-Men and points in Saturday's skirmish at Orlando's Amway Center. BetOnline pushed the spread out with Florida State laying 5½, that number jumping up a half in the early going. Scoreboard punters are deciding on a 151 point hurdle.


Musketeers Hoping For 6th Sweet 16 Trip In 10 Seasons

Let's start with Xavier (22-13 straight up, 16-18 against the spread) no stranger to Sweet 16 rounds, a win Saturday making for the Musketeers' sixth such trip since '08. One of those seasons, 2012, saw Chris Mack's men do it as a No. 10 before dropping a 75-70 decision to then-No. 3 Baylor as 6½ point underdogs on the NCAA basketball odds.

The Musketeers already pulled off one upset to reach the Round of 32, albeit a slight one as 2 point 'dogs against No. 6 Maryland. They did it with solid glass work, just enough outside shooting, and efficient offense overall, all three of those ingredients a big part of how the X-Men turned around a tough February stretch to win four of their last five. One thing Xavier can't afford to do is turn it over 15 times, as was the case Thursday.


Who Can Control The Glass & Make Free Throws?

Yes, Florida State (26-8 SU, 17-13 ATS) had a sloppy opening performance against No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast and still managed to win. The 86-80 triumph came as 11½ point chalk, and there is something to say for overcoming bad play but still putting a dubya on the board. Leonard Hamilton's lads dominated the glass and shot well from inside the arc, but had trouble converting 3-point attempts (2-13) and left a lot of points at the charity stripe (24-39).

The Musketeers should be able to hang with FSU in the rebounding column and make enough outside shots to open up the lane for driving, and that's why they're my free college basketball pick on Saturday.

Free NCAAB Pick: Xavier +6 Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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