NCAA Basketball Picks: Xavier vs. St. John's

Darin Zank

Monday, February 23, 2015 3:52 PM GMT

Big East NCAA tournament hopefuls meet when Xavier visits St. John's at the Garden Monday night. Both teams appear headed for the Big Dance, but neither team is assured of anything yet. We've got a lean on this one, for anyone interested.

Musketeers-Storm Betting Odds
Most of the NCAA basketball odds opened this game with St. John's favored by two points, the total offered at right around 145. In the early betting many shops then dropped the spread to -1.5 and -1, and bumped the total to 145.5.


Musketeers-Storm: Background
Xavier has won four of its last five games, following Saturday's 73-56 drubbing of Butler. The Musketeers led by 11 points at the half Saturday, and pushed that lead to 29 in the second half, cruising to the cover as five-point favorites.

Xavier shot 46 percent from the field Saturday, and made seven of 16 three-pointers, while holding the Bulldogs to just 35 percent shooting.

The Musketeers also won a rivalry game at Cincinnati last Wednesday 59-57.

At 18-10 overall, 8-7 in conference play Xavier sits in fifth place in the Big East, and with a good RPI and SOS would probably make the NCAA tournament if the field were announced today.

St. John's has also won four of its last five games, after dispatching of Seton Hall Saturday 85-72. That game was tied with nine minutes to go, but the Redmen – errr, “Red Storm” - ended on a 26-13 run, and even picked up an unlikely cover as nine-favorites.

St. John's hit 11 of 26 shots from beyond the arc Saturday, a nice bounce-back effort after going 7-for-22 from 3-point land in a 79-57 loss at Georgetown last Tuesday.

Just before the loss to the Hoyas the Storm had beaten Creighton, DePaul and Xavier consecutively, coming within a bucket of sweeping those three games ATS.

However, at 18-9 overall and 7-7 in the Big East, despite decent statistical qualifications, St. John's is still on the tournament bubble. Nothing has been written yet.


Musketeers-Storm Recent History
St. John's took the first meeting between these teams this season nine days ago in Cincinnati 78-70, winning outright as an eight-point dog on the road. The Storm led by nine with about 10 minutes to go, let that lead shrink to one, then pulled away late.

St. John's shot 52 percent from the floor that day, while the Musketeers shot just 42 percent.

That game played UNDER its total of 149 by one point.


By the Numbers
Xavier is shooting 48 percent from the floor this season, which ranks in the top 20 in the country, 35 percent from 3-point land and 73 percent from the FT line. At the other end of the court the Musketeers are allowing opponents to shoot 44 percent.

St. John's is shooting 45 percent from the floor, 35 percent from the trifecta area and 70 percent from the line, while holding foes to 40 percent FG shooting.


Musketeers-Storm Betting Trends
Xavier, the highest-scoring team in the Big East this season, is only 12-14 on the totals this season, even as Musketeers games have averaged 143 points. They've also played four UNDERS in a row. Obviously, they've been going against some high totals.

St. John's is 12-11 on the totals, as Storm games have averaged 139 points. But they've also played seven OVERS in their last nine games, mainly because they've been putting the ball in the hole at a pretty good rate.


Musketeers-Storm Free Pick
Xavier is coming off an impressive outing against Butler, while St. John's struggled a bit with a deflated Seton Hall outfit last time out. But college basketball is a game-to-game roller coaster, and we won't be surprised if the Storm come out as the hot team tonight, the Musketeers perhaps a bit flat. Also, St. John's just won at Xavier nine days ago, and not much has changed since then. So we like the Storm for our college basketball picks, the home team at a short spread.

Free College Basketball Pick: St. John's -1 at Pinnacle