Bet For Xavier To Cover In Heated Rivalry vs. Cincinnati

Xavier Musketeers players celebrating

Thursday, January 26, 2017 1:50 PM GMT

If you like nasty rivalries -- and who doesn't? -- one of the best takes place tonight when Cincinnati is favored on the NCAA basketball odds against Xavier.

No, it's never going to be mentioned in the same breath with Duke-North Carolina, Kentucky-Louisville or Georgetown-Syracuse. But the rivalry between the Xavier Musketeers and Cincinnati Bearcats is as heated as they come and still ranks among my favorites.

This year's clash will be played on Cincinnati's home floor at Fifth Third Arena, ESPN2 beginning its broadcast at 7 PM (ET). BetOnline originally had the Bearcats -3½, that spread ballooning to -5½ with some shops still offering a flat -5 and 136½ for the total.

Just about everything concerning this rivalry screams The Queen City, beginning with the universities sitting three miles apart. Both rosters include players from Cincinnati or the surrounding communities, and even the two coaches, Xavier's Chris Mack and Mick Cronin of the Bearcats, attended high school in the area.

 

'Cats Aim To Continue 18-Game Home Court Streak

Xavier (14-5 straight up, 10-8 against the spread) might be happy to take a short break from its Big East schedule. The Musketeers won their first three conference tilts before calling to the league's Big 3 -- Villanova, Butler, and Creighton -- in succession, failing to cover the NCAA basketball odds in each loss. They did bounce back with a victory and cover over Georgetown, Xavier's second vs. the Hoyas this season, but four of the five losses have come on the road where Mack's men have shot just over 37% on the season.

Cincinnati (17-2 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) is climbing in the rankings with a 7-0 start in American Athletic Conference play, the most recent victory coming last Saturday at Tulane where the Bearcats posted a 78-61 decision to just get the payoff after three consecutive ATS losers. Like Xavier, Cincinnati also couldn't handle its matchup at Butler earlier this season, the only other loss a neutral-site collision with Rhode Island at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Bearcats are 11-0 at home, 4-4 vs. the odds, and will be looking to extend an 18-game win streak at Fifth Third.

 

X-Men 4-1 ATS Last 5 Meetings

It's the Bearcats who hold a comfortable 49-34 advantage over the course of the rivalry, though the Musketeers have been closing that margin in recent years. Xavier has won the last three, seven of the last nine and 14 of the last 20. Playing chalk has also been a winner with six returns to the window in the past eight matchups. Last season's lone matchup came across town at Cintas Center, the encounter coming prior to either team hitting its conference slate and the Musketeers grabbing a 65-55 decision as 4½ point favorites. The final never got close to a 140½ point total, the fourth consecutive 'under' in the series.

Much like my free college basketball picks have been alternating wins and losses, both teams have been bouncing back and forth between 'over' and 'under' results. I do like the series trend on the low side but will take the underdog Musketeers in this battle.

 

Free NCAAB Pick: Xavier +5½ 

Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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