Texas A&M has Rebounded from March Madness Bracket Snub
Xavier spent some time ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll but a five-game losing streak late in the regular season ended the Musketeers’ hopes of making it into the March Madness bracket for the first time since 2018. The late-season slump cost Travis Steele his job as Archie Miller was recently hired for his second stint with the Musketeers.
Wins over Florida, top-seeded Auburn and Arkansas put Texas A&M in the SEC title game and many of the March Madness predictions had the Aggies in the field of 568. However, losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt in February were too much to overcome as the Aggies had to settle for a spot in the NIT.
This will be the end of an era as this is the last NIT final to be held at Madison Square Garden until further notice.
Texas A&M (-4½) enters the game as the favorite.
Loss of Scruggs Big Blow for Xavier
It has been a relatively injury-free season for Xavier with six of the top eight players playing at least 33 of 35 games this season.
The Musketeers took a big hit when second-leading scorer Paul Scruggs tore his ACL in a win over Florida and he won’t be available for Thursday’s title game.
Scruggs leads the team with 134 assists and is the second-leading scorer and one of four players with at least 30 3-pointers.
He hasn’t been able to travel with the team since his injury but his teammates have kept in touch with him via video conference calls and social media in an attempt to make him feel as much a part of the last couple of wins as possible.
Once again, Xavier’s team FaceTimed Paul Scruggs in the locker room after the game. Scruggs was unable to travel with the team this week.
Adam Kunkel said Scruggs was “ecstatic.”
“He was hyped for us. We wish we had him here, but we’re playing for him.”
— Adam Baum (@AdamJBaum) March 30, 2022
Xavier wasn’t a deep team to begin with so replacing Scruggs will be no easy task. It does help that eight players have started at least three games this season which is a reason why the March Madness odds had the Musketeers in the NCAA field for much of the season.
The Musketeers are also without Ben Stanley and Cesare Edwards who haven’t played since November.
Xavier is 3-8 against the Las Vegas odds in its last 11 games.
All Hands on Deck for Texas A&M
There are no such depth issues for Texas A&M.
Texas A&M’s reserves have played an average of 67 minutes per game in the NIT. Some of that could have been impacted by the fact that the Aggies were in control of each of the four games in the NIT.
It does give head coach Buzz Williams some options in the event of foul trouble or merely trying to change the flow of the game with a different look on the court. It allows him to apply as much pressure as possible on the opposing backcourt.
Leading scorer Quenton Jackson is probably the only player who doesn’t have to worry about how much time he spends on the bench as he has averaged 31.5 minutes per game in the tournament. Tyrece Radford is the only other start averaging more than 30 minutes per game in the NIT.
Texas A&M is 10-2 against the college basketball spreads in its last 12 games.
Xavier vs Texas A&M Head-to-Head
Xavier and Texas A&M haven’t met since 1965 when the Musketeers won 98-86 so there won’t be much information for those who bet online to gain from that previous matchup.
It seems more than likely that this game will be significantly lower scoring than the 1965 showdown.
Xavier vs Texas A&M Game Information
- Game: Xavier (22-13) vs Texas A&M (27-12)
- Location: Madison Square Garden, New York
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 31st. 7 p.m. ET
- Xavier vs Texas A&M Live Stream: TBS.com
Xavier vs Texas A&M Betting Lines
Xavier vs Texas A&M Prediction
Texas A&M ranks in the top five nationally in steals per game but Xavier has only turned the ball over 10 times in each of the last two tournament games.
Texas A&M has won its last six games when listed as the favorite which is the case for Thursday’s game. They are 5-1 against the college basketball spreads in the last six games as a favorite.
Xavier snapped a five-game losing streak as the underdog with its win over St. Bonaventure
Xavier has only covered in three of its last 11 games. Texas A&M has covered in 10 of its last 12 games.