The Musketeers can win because…
They are the better team. Xavier blitzed Creighton this past Saturday, notching a win over a team that entered the game ranked in the top 10. The Musketeers’ defense was very active and effective. It did not allow Creighton superstar Doug McDermott to enjoy a huge day, and it contained the rest of the Bluejays’ supporting cast. The Musketeers were extremely sharp in terms of their help-and-recover maneuvers. They put bodies on McDermott to make sure that the Jays’ best scorer did not feel comfortable. Yet, when McDermott passed the ball, his teammates did not get many easy baskets as a result. Xavier was just a very focused team that played one of its better defensive games of the season. If the Musketeers can carry that same level of intensity into this game and be alert in tending to all sorts of little details – the kinds of things that go into precise and successful basketball plays – they should be all right.
One point to add is that whenever Xavier got pushed by Creighton on Saturday, the Musketeers were able to get to the rim for fairly easy opportunities. Xavier should be able to score in this game because it should be able to get to the basket with the dribble. Seton Hall allowed 74 points this past Friday to Providence. Xavier should be able to do the same if not more.
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The Pirates can win because…
They're playing with nothing to lose in a context that might help them to play with more energy. Seton Hall, unlike Xavier, won’t be going to the NCAA tournament. The Pirates won’t even make the NIT. This is a team that’s winding down its season, another difficult winter filled with injuries and other setbacks as it tries to re-establish what it had in the early 1990s under former head coach P.J. Carlesimo. What better way for Seton Hall to close its season than to make life hard for the better teams in its conference? The desire to play spoiler could enter into this game and how it develops.
There needs to be an amplification of the point made above: Seton Hall has a chance to play this game with more energy than Xavier. Why is this the case? Xavier put a lot of emotional fire into its game against Creighton on Saturday. That game was a very big deal for the Musketeers, and they way they played showed how much they cared. Now, though, Xavier has to shift gears, hop on a plane to New Jersey, and play a Monday night game right after that huge Saturday win. Will Xavier be focused or will it still be thinking about how well it played versus Creighton? Going on the road will also take Xavier out of a comfort zone. The Musketeers might be very sluggish. Seton Hall played a home game on Friday and will have more rest.
It is true that Seton Hall will be more rested, but Xavier is simply a much better team, and that differential is going to show up on Monday, enough for the Musketeers to win the game.
Pick: Xavier -1 at BetOnline