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Xavier Musketeers vs Providence Friars set for a Big East scrap

We have ourselves a Big East showdown between under-the-radar teams that could be an entertaining game for online sports betting. The Xavier Musketeers take on the Providence Friars Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in a rematch of their January classic.

College basketball betting odds post the Musketeers as slight favorites here and I’ll take them to win. Let’s look at this rematch, which is available from the BetUS online sportsbook.

Quentin Goodin of the Xavier Musketeers shoots the ball against the Green Bay Phoenix at Cintas Center
Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Musketeers vs Friars Betting Preview

Xavier: Balanced Scoring

Xavier has quietly been one of the Big East’s better squads despite having a 5-4 record in the conference, it’s 12-4 overall. The Musketeers’ strength is their balanced attack on offense.

Led by sophomore forward Zach Freemantle (16.5 points), the Musketeers have a top-50 offense by KenPom’s standards and their 77 points per game is 63rd in the nation. Freemantle also figures to be critical to the team with his rebounding as Xavier also excels in this category.

More importantly, the Musketeers are efficient and take care of the basketball. They average 18.4 assists compared to just 11.8 turnovers, one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation.

On defense, the Musketeers hold their opponents to just 40 percent shooting (30th) and swipe the ball at least seven times per contest. They usually win the turnover battles and don’t commit too many fouls.

This responsible style is both calming to watch and effective.

Providence: Two-Man Wrecking Crew

The Friars are led by junior guard David Duke who is averaging 17.1 points, 6.2 boards, and 4.8 assists and hitting nearly two threes a game at a 40 percent clip. They are 7-9 in the conference and 11-11 overall and may be out of NCAA March Madness.

Duke isn’t alone in carrying the Friars’ load. Senior center Nate Watson is chipping in with his 16.7 points and a team-leading 6.7 boards a game. Guard A.J. Reeves (9.9 points) can also contribute.

The Friars are decent on both ends of the ball although their collective three-point shooting of 32.3 percent won’t cut it (244th). If they do catch fire on this end, they can give even better teams a run-for-their-money.

On defense, Providence is one of the better perimeter teams. They limit opponents to just 31 percent from deep (52nd). But they need players outside of Duke and Watson to crash the boards.

If the Friars can continue stopping opponents from distance and cleaning the glass, they can play spoiler and upset the better teams of the division.

Preview: Musketeers Win Definitively

It was an intriguing back-and-forth when these two last met. The Musketeers won by a last-second three from guard Colby Jones. But the game shouldn’t have been as close as Xavier generally outplayed Providence.

Duke and Watson were a two-man show for the Friars going for a combined 47 points on 19-of-29 shooting. Watson tallied 14 boards while Duke hit seven of his nine threes as they carried the Friars despite the Musketeers’ best efforts.

Xavier has a solid defense, but they didn’t seem to have any answers for the two. But they did the next best thing: neutralize everyone else on the team. Reeves was the third guy for the Friars and shot only 3-of-12, missing all of his two-point attempts.

As much as I think Duke and Watson will continue to produce, I don’t think they’ll feast on Xavier like they did the last time. But I still expect Xavier to maintain their efficiency and to continue winning the turnover and foul difference.

Xavier will be my college basketball betting pick and this time, it won’t come down to the last shot.

Pick: Xavier Musketeers to win

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