Projecting High-Scoring Affair Between Xavier and Nova in Big East Showdown

Rainman M.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 1:30 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 1:30 PM UTC

No. 1 Villanova (14-1) hosts No. 10 Xavier (15-2) tonight at 8 ET. The newly top-ranked Wildcats are favored by 9 points. The game total is set at 163.5.

Xavier Musketeers vs Villanova Wildcats

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Free NCAAB Pick: Over 163.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Xavier returns its first- and third-leading scorers from last season.

Sophomore point guard Quentin Goodin enjoyed a head start as Xavier's starting point guard last season when he replaced the team's injured second-leading scorer Edward Sumner. Goodin ranks 64th in assist rate and has scored double digits in four straight games.

Shooting guard JP Macura is one of four upperclassmen in Xavier's starting lineup. He has earned a reputation among teammates for having competitive fire and relishing the hostility of opposing fans on the road. Macura is becoming a more efficient scorer this season, ranking 433rd in two-point completion and 134rd in free throw completion.

Whereas Macura is second on the team with 13.1 points per game, small forward Trevon Bluiett leads the team with 19.4 points per game. Although he led the team last year in scoring, Bluiett was snubbed from the NBA draft. The motivated scorer has improved to his three-point percentage to 41.7 and is a more ball-secure distributor.

Power forward Kaiser Gates is the other Musketeer who completes over 40% from behind the arc. Other big men Tyrique Jones, Kerem Kanter and Naji Marshall complete over 60% from two.

Jay Wright's Villanova offense ranks in the top-five in offensive efficiency as it has the past three years. Its defense ranks its lowest since 2012.

Oklahoma's freshman sensation Trae Young gets too much hype at the expense of point guard Jalen Brunson. The ball-secure, versatile scorer and distributor ranks in the top-100 in assist rate, turnover rate, two-point completion and three-point completion. He has achieved 58 points and 13 assists compared to only two turnovers in Nova's past two games.

Shooting guards Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, and small forward Mikal Bridges rank in the top-400 in both two-point and three-point completion.

Power forward Eric Paschall completes over 60% from two. He also draws many fouls and completes over 80% free throws. Center Omari Spellman excels at achieving second-chance points, ranking 86th in offensive rebounding percentage. He also ranks 86th in three-point completion. Of the five best three-point shooters on Nova, he attempts the fewest threes, but more than half of Bridges, who has attempted the most. Nova's offense is so great partly because it boasts so many meaningful contributors.

The Verdict

Today is a bounce-back spot for Xavier, which had produced 72 points, its second-lowest season total, in a loss against Providence. Xavier has scored fewer than 80 points four times and after every time they scored more than 80 points in the following game, including 89 against Cincinnati's second-ranked defense. Villanova's offense has been hot, scoring over 90 points in four straight games. Conversely, Xavier's defense has allowed each of its Big East opponents to score above its season average in points. Nova averages 88.9 points per game.

Both teams will be able to maximize their respective offensive strength. Nova relies on three-point shooting with the 61st-highest proportion. It will get plenty of three-point attempts against Xavier's 256th-ranked perimeter defense. Nova ranks 13th in three-point completion. Xavier, contrary to Nova, scores the 127th-highest distribution of two-pointers. It ranks 14th in two-point completion and can succeed against Nova's lesser-sized defense that allows the 42nd-highest point distribution from two. The spot and match-up speak for a high-scoring showdown on our NCAAB Picks.

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