Gonzaga Looking to Avoid Rare Back-to-Back Losses
The tests come for both Xavier and Gonzaga in the third-place game in the Phil Knight Legacy event. It is not a surprise that Xavier fell short of reaching the title game after falling to Duke. However, Gonzaga was overwhelmed by Purdue in suffering its second loss of the season.
Knowing that ranked games will be hard to come by when the West Coast Conference season gets underway, Gonzaga has already played three ranked teams as well as a Michigan State team that probably should have been ranked at the time of the game. The Bulldogs have lost two of those contests. Both of Xavier’s losses have come to ranked teams.
Gonzaga has lost twice in the month of November for the first time since 2010. The program has never lost three times by the end of November.
According to the college basketball playoff odds, Gonzaga (+325) is tied with Kentucky for the second-best odds to reach the Final Four. Xavier comes in at +2000.
Gonzaga is fifth in the Coaches’ Poll and sixth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and should drop in both polls for the second week in a row after the loss to Purdue.
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme (+800) is second in the odds to win the Wooden Award as the national player of the year.
Nudge Looking to Bounce Back
It was not a performance for the ages for Xavier‘s leading scorer Jack Nudge the last time out.
Nudge missed 12 of his 13 shots from the field. The 7-footer is shooting 65% in the four wins and 22% in the two losses.
Nudge finished with five points in the loss to Duke, his first double-digit scoring game of the season.
Teammate Souley Boum posted his second straight game with more than 20 points to take over the team scoring lead. He is 19 of 20 from the foul line in the first two games in the tournament. Boum has scored in double digits in each of his last four games against ranked opponents, including the two games he played versus Kansas when he was at UTEP.
Five of Xavier’s first six games went over the Las Vegas odds total.
Role Players Are No Shows
Rimme did what he could to keep Gonzaga in the game against Purdue with 22 points. However, he needed a little more help.
Starters Anton Watson and Julian Strawther finished with four points on 2-of-11 shooting and Malachi Smith, coming off a 23-point effort, had three points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few was critical of his team’s shot selection when Purdue began to take over the game and especially how the missed shots translated to defensive lapses as Purdue shot 57% from the floor and also scored Gonzaga 11-3 at the foul line in the second half in the 18-point loss.
A bright spot was provided by Ben Gregg as he contributed a career-high nine points in nine minutes. Perhaps that will lead to more playing time for a player who played at least 10 minutes just four times in 39 career games with the Bulldogs. Also, Nolan Hickman had 15 points as he scored in double digits for just the second time this season.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) November 26, 2022
Gonzaga has covered against the college basketball betting lines in only three of its last seven games.
Xavier vs Gonzaga Game Injuries
Xavier vs Gonzaga Head-to-Head
This is the first meeting between the teams since the 2017 NCAA tournament when Gonzaga won 83-59 as an 8½-point favorite to clinch a spot in the Final Four. The last meeting in the regular season came in 2011.
Gonzaga won each of the last four meetings with three of them going under the total. Xavier won the first meeting between the teams in 1960.
The teams met seven times when current Xavier head coach was at Arizona. Gonzaga won four of those games and covered in each of those victories. Arizona did pick up a win in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
Xavier vs Gonzaga Game Information
- Game: Xavier (4-2) vs Gonzaga (4-2)
- Location: Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Ore.
- Day/Time: Sunday, Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Xavier vs Gonzaga Live Stream: TBS
Xavier vs Gonzaga Betting Lines
Xavier vs Gonzaga Picks & Prediction
Xavier is 0-2 when listed by the sportsbook as the underdog this season. The Musketeers not only nearly covered against Duke as a five-point underdog, but if they hadn’t missed their last four field-goal attempts and committed two turnovers down the stretch, perhaps Xavier would be playing for the Phil Knight Legacy title.
Gonzaga has lost back-to-back games during the regular season once in the last 10 seasons. The last time it happened came against Tennessee and North Carolina in 2018. In the last four games after regular-season losses, Gonzaga is 2–2 against the spread.
The total has gone over in eight of Gonzaga’s last 10 games. This game could be headed the same way.
Sean Miller won more than 20 games in each of his last four seasons during his first stint at Xavier. He is still trying to figure out some things in his first season in his return to the school. This could be a tough challenge facing a talented and veteran Gonzaga team with a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder following their most lopsided loss since 2019.