Xavier vs. Arizona Betting Odds – Sweet 16 2015

Written by:
Carrie Stroup
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Xavier vs. Arizona Betting Odds – Sweet 16 2015

Carrie Stroup with your Xavier vs. Arizona betting odds for Sweet 16 2015.


NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16

Sportsbook.ag Line: Arizona -10.5, Total: 135.5

No. 2 seed Arizona looks to keep punishing tournament foes as it faces No. 6 Xavier for the right to go to the Elite Eight.

If it weren’t for Kentucky’s season-long dominance, Arizona’s recent play would be garnering more headlines. Surely for Coach Sean Miller this isn’t a bad thing. The Wildcats have won 13 straight and will enter their game against Xavier as a double-digit favorite for the eighth straight game (5-2 ATS in previous seven). The Wildcats are fresh off of a 73-58 win over Ohio State in the third round, as they held star Buckeye guard, D’Angelo Russell, to nine points on 3-for-19 shooting.

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The Musketeers, losers in the Big East conference finals to Villanova, have had the good fortune of facing two double-digit seeds in the NCAA tournament thus far, easing by No. 11 seed Ole Miss and No. 14 Georgia State 76-57 and 75-67 respectively. The Musketeers did have impressive conference tournament wins over NCAA tournament teams Butler and Georgetown, as they enter this contest as winners of five of their past six (4-2 ATS). Arizona will be the first non-conference opponent to make the NCAA tournament that Xavier plays this year, and will be the second time all season that the Musketeers are double-digit underdogs (88-75 loss at Villanova as 10-point underdogs on Jan. 14).

Xavier is 5-3 SU (5-3 ATS) in neutral sites this season while Arizona is undefeated (8-0 SU) and 4-4 ATS on neutral courts. Both Arizona and Xavier have had their total hit Under in four of their past five games respectively.

The major storyline for the game will revolve around a subplot of coaching mentor versus protégé, as Sean Miller will be coaching against his former team, and former top lieutenant on the bench, Xavier’s Chris Mack. Miller coached the Musketeers from 2004-2009 and Mack was his top assistant, as the two led Xavier to four NCAA appearances, culminating in one Elite Eight trip in 2008 and a Sweet 16 trip in 2009. Once Miller left for Arizona, Mack took over at the end of the bench. Mack has led the Musketeers to the NCAA tournament in five of his six seasons as head man, including two Sweet 16 appearances. Mack is 6-4 overall in the NCAA tournament. Miller, over his tenures at Xavier and Arizona has compiled a 16-7 overall NCAA tournament resume (8-3 at Arizona) and has reached the Sweet 16 in three straight seasons (and Elite Eight in two of the past three seasons. Miller’s three tournament losses at Arizona have all been by three points or less.

Five Xavier players average over 8.5 points per game, as Coach Mack has a solid eight-man rotation with a good mix of size, athleticism and experience. Only one Musketeer - G Dee Davis (8.5 PPG, 6.1 APG, 32 MPG) - plays 30+ minutes per game. Playing Arizona presents a myriad of problems, but chief of Mack’s concerns should be keeping the Wildcats off the glass, as Arizona (+9.5 reb margin, 2nd in NCAA) has upped that to a +12 rebounding margin over its past five games. Xavier is very good at keeping opponents off the glass (30.9 RPG allowed, 39th in NCAA), as it always helps to shoot 68% from the field, as it did in its win on Saturday versus Georgia State (in the process, allowing only 12 rebounds). Xavier’s total rebounding numbers are mediocre, but its strong defensive rebounding contributes to a rebounding margin that’s 60th in the country.

Xavier’s overall profile from the field (47.7% FG, 22nd in NCAA) shows that the performance versus Georgia State on offense wasn’t completely out of the blue. The Musketeers balanced offense shares the ball (16.3 APG, 9th in NCAA) and doesn’t turn it over (1.35 A:TO, 23rd in NCAA). Xavier hadn’t profiled as a team reliant on beating you with the three in the regular season (35.6% 3PT, 118th in NCAA) but its two NCAA tournament wins have been a different story, as the team has gone 17-for-36 from downtown. Leading the long range efforts have been Davis (5-for-10 3PT) scoring 15 and 17 points respectively and fellow G Myles Davis (10.7 PPG) – no relation – who broke out of a 1-for-12 slump from long range going into the tournament to hit seven of his past 13 threes (including going 5-for-8 in the win over Georgia State).

Xavier is led in scoring by senior C Matt Stainbrook (12.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.4 APG), who is very adept at finding the open man on offense from the high post. The ever-inconsistent F Trevon Bluitt (11.7 PPG) would be very helpful to have contribute versus Arizona, as he’s scored only seven points over two games so far. F Jalen Reynolds (9.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG) scored 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting from the field versus Georgia State and has the size and athleticism to match Arizona’s length inside, if he can stay out of foul trouble.

Given how well Arizona is playing as of late, the Wildcats won’t be fazed by Xavier’s defensive profile (191st in NCAA in points allowed). If Arizona is to struggle versus Xavier, it’ll be its own doing, as Xavier is excellent at drawing fouls (20.2 per game, 32nd in NCAA). Of course, Arizona profiles as even better, at 20.9 fouls drawn per game (12th in NCAA), but if F Brandon Ashley (12.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 51% FG), F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (10.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG), F Stanley Johnson (14.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG) or C Kaleb Tarczewski (9.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG) were to find themselves in foul trouble, they’d arguably be worse-equipped to deal with the depth drop-off than Xavier, as only one bench player for the Wildcats sees significant minutes (G Gabe York – 9.1 PPG, 22.0 MPG). Given the way G T.J. McConnell (9.8 PPG, 6.4 APG, 2.1 SPG) has been playing recently, though, one gets the feeling that he’ll be able to will this club far past this round.

McConnell has put on a show through two rounds so far, filling the stat sheet with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and nine steals in total thus far. Even more impressive, as a 6-foot-1 point guard, McConnell is shooting 13-for-21 from the field. While Arizona doesn’t light it up from the perimeter, York (the aforementioned sixth man) can be a big weapon for the Wildcats, as he hit for 21 points (5-for-9 from three) in their most recent win over Ohio State. Hollis-Jefferson has quietly put up two straight double-doubles (points and rebounds) for the Wildcats, who will need more from their star freshman, Johnson, who went just 1-for-12 from the field versus Ohio State in the third round.

- Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter

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