Xavier's O Too Much For Seminoles D In Second Round Rematch

Xavier Musketeers players

Jay Pryce

Saturday, March 17, 2018 4:49 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 17, 2018 4:49 PM UTC

Ninth-seeded Florida State is aiming to avenge a second-round defeat to top-seeded Xavier in last year's NCAA Tournament in Nashville on Sunday night. The Seminoles will be catching points this time around. Can they win and cover the spread?

No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 9 Florida StateWest Region, Sunday, Nashville, 8:40 p.m. ETFree NCAAB Pick: XavierBest Line Offered: Intertops

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The roles are reversed this time as top-seeded Xavier and ninth-seeded Florida State clash in Nashville Sunday night. These two squared off last year in the second round, the 11th-seeded Musketeers routing the three-seed Seminoles 91-66 as 7.5-point underdogs. Xavier’s offense couldn’t miss in the matchup, going 30-of-54 (55.6 percent) from the floor. National Player of the Year candidate Trevon Bluiett dropped 29 points in the win. Florida State should double down on the superstar this time around.

The senior guard, a three-time All-Big East first-team member averaging 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game, can easily be cashing a pro paycheck. Shutting him down is the key to beating Xavier. Bluiett has scored 13 points or fewer 10 times this season; the Musketeers are 6-4 SU and 5-5 ATS overall in those games. When putting up more, they are 23-1 SU and 15-8-1 ATS.

FSU smothered Missouri 67-54 in its opening round game, holding the Tigers to an abysmal 32.7 percent from the field. It is a vast improvement over a porous defense that limped into the Big Dance. The Seminoles went 3-5 SU and 0-7-1 ATS to close out the regular-season. In this span, they allowed 77.9 points per game on 45.7-percent shooting. Shot stopping on the perimeter proved the biggest challenge, yielding a 45.7-percent opponent 3-pointer rate. All but one foe, in fact, scored above the market’s projected team total.

Whether coach Leonard Hamilton’s unit is back to elite levels is yet to be determined. The Tigers entered the matchup without their second-leading scorer Jordan Barnett, while attempting to integrate future NBA star Michael Porter as the core of the offense in just his second full game all season. The unit was bound to lack rhythm and play out of sync. Xavier will provide the FSU defense a proper litmus test.

The Musketeers, which rank seventh in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency ratings, own one of the top scoring offenses in the country. It is armed with multiple top-quality guards capable of taking over games. They are an above-average 3-point shooting team, draining 7.9 per game at a 36.9 percent rate. This will likely be the FSU’s undoing. It is 2-8-2 ATS since the New Year when going up against an opponent averaging more than 7.5 treys per game. It is failing to cover a -3.5 line by 5.1 points per meeting, allowing opponents to hit 42.3 percent from long-range.

Xavier returns four starters from last year’s Elite Eight-reaching squad, while the Seminoles lost their three top scorers from last season. FSU will not be able to keep up. In the last decade, it averages just 66.0 points per game on 43.6 percent shooting on a neutral court. These numbers will have to jump significantly to top an offense that posts 77.7 per contest on a neutral court since the shot clock change in the 2015-16 season. The Musketeers are 14-6-1 ATS under these conditions in this span. Lay the points with Xavier.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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