Utah's Elite Rebounding Should Keep Things Tight With Xavier

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, December 10, 2016 2:52 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 2:52 PM UTC

Our college basketball handicapper has started red hot. Read on as he shares his analysis of this game between the 6-1 Utah Utes and 7--2 Xavier Musketeers on Saturday afternoon.

Utah Utes vs Xavier Musketeers 

Utah takes their 6-1 SU record on the road on Saturday, as they travel to face the 13th ranked 7-2 Xavier Musketeers. The Musketeers are coming off of two SU and ATS losses, but are still favored in this game with initial lines backing them with 11-point chalk at BetOnline. It will be the first meeting between these two programs.

Xavier’s results in the last two games are a bit surprising, and take their road record to 1-3 when taking neutral courts into account. Now they come back to where they are a perfect 4-0 SU and 3-0 ATS on their home court. The Musketeers lost their last game as a 1.5-point road favorite to Colorado, 66-68. 6’ 6” junior guard, Trevon Bluiett, continued to lead the way for Xavier, as he scored 27 points in the loss and kicked up his average to 19.3 points per game. Transfer Rashid Gaston, a 6’ 9” forward, had 14 points and 11 rebounds as well, picking up his second double-double of the season.

All of Xavier’s starters are 6’ 5” or above, so they do have some length in their lineup. This is also one of the reasons they are ranked 30th in college basketball in rebounds.

Not to be outdone by Xavier in rebounds are the Utes, who are 1st in the nation in rebounding at 47.7 per game. They are led by senior 6’ 9” senior, Kyle Kuzma, who averages more than a double-double at 16.4 points and 11 rebounds per game. Utah’s rotation is a little deeper than Xavier’s, as Utah tries to get their 7’ 0” sophomore center, Jayce Johnson, at least 15 minutes per game. He is very efficient in those 15 minutes too, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game. He has a tendency to get into foul trouble though – he fouled out of Utah’s only loss against Butler.

Other than that Butler game, though, the Utes have been blowing people out. They’ve also been very steep favorites, so their ATS record is only 1-4 on the season. In their last game against Utah Valley they only won by 7 points and failed to cover, but they did get significant minutes from their bench in rotating 8 players. Utah Valley has a 6’ 11” monster forward named Isaac Neilson that Utah did not have an answer for.

Utah’s starting lineup is about 2” shorter than Xavier’s in the backcourt, yet they Utes have a slight advantage in size when Johnson is thrown into the mix in the front court. For this reason, Utah’s rebounding strength should hold in this game, which should offset the higher rate of contested shots their guards will see. The NCAA Basketball odds has since moved to Xavier -11.5, which I think is too much. Take Utah +11.5 and expect them to keep this game within single digits on the road for your NCAA basketball picks.


Free NCAAB Picks: Utah +11.5Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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